Sept. 15, 2004
Greg Dalby –
The fifth-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team battled top-ranked Indiana for close to 60 scoreless minutes until the Hoosiers broke through for two goals in the game’s final 40 minutes to defeat the Irish 2-1. Notre Dame drops to 3-1-1 on the season while the Hoosiers improve to 5-0-0. Indiana also evens up its record against the Irish during the Bobby Clark era to 2-2.
The teams played even in the first half to keep the game scoreless and even the final stats told the tale of just how close the game was. Indiana posted 10 shots to Notre Dame’s nine. The Irish drew six corner kicks compared to just one for the Hoosiers. Notre Dame also forced Indiana goalkeeper Jay Nolly to make four saves, compared to three for Irish tender Chris Sawyer.
“It was a hard, even game,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said after the contest.
“Anytime you can come in and play the number one team in the country close to even on the statistics you have accomplished something.”
Indiana scored at 53:15 when Jacob Peterson drove a deflected shot past Sawyer, with assists from Mike Ambersley and Josh Tudela. Brian Plotkin posted the insurance goal at 80:17 off a feed from Kevin Robson.
Justin McGeeney led the Irish in shots with three, including two on goal. Tony Megna also had two shots on goal for Notre Dame. Both players drew praise from Coach Clark after the game.
“It thought all our forwards played well today,” Clark said.
“Especially McGeeney and Megna over the last 15 minutes. They were giving the Indiana defense all they could handle.”
Notre Dame will return home to face Georgetown in the first BIG EAST matchup of the year for the Irish on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Indiana came through with the first scoring chance at six minutes when Indiana’s Jacob Peterson shot through the middle of the Notre Dame defense. Sawyer quickly left his mark in the box and snuffed Peterson’s shot from 15 yards out. It was yet another spectacular save from Notre Dame’s all-star goalie.
Notre Dame’s first scoring chance came in the ninth minute when Stewart intercepted a pass at midfield and worked his way through the Indiana defense, beating three defenders and creating a three on one. His pass just missed the mark, however, and Indiana was able to clear the ball out of the goal box.
Peterson found himself with another shot attempt at 13 minutes for the Hoosiers when Notre Dame failed to clear a header from the close left side. His shot to the opposite post ended up wide for a goal kick.
Sawyer picked up his second save of the first half on a routine shot from IU’s Charley Traylor at 18:00.
IU’s first set piece scoring chance came at 22 minutes when Christopher High picked up a yellow card for a handball that was destined to split the Irish defense. Brian Plotkin’s shot from 20 yards ended up harmlessly flying over the cross bar.
The Irish offense had a bit of trouble finding its rhythm in the first half, unable to string together enough touches to mount a solid scoring chance. The final 10 minutes of the period, however, the Irish looked a bit more in synch and held the Hoosiers scoreless, ready to come out even stronger in the second half.
Notre Dame came out aggressive and more determined in the second half of the contest, spending most of the time in the Indiana end of the field. Freshman Joe Lapira was particularly active, getting off a solid cross and drawing a corner kick in the first seven minutes.
Indiana caught the Irish defense unbalanced in the 52nd minute when Tudela moved in behind the defense. The ball was eventually centered and Notre Dame failed to clear the ball twice and Peterson drove home a deflected shot just under a diving Sawyer.
The Hoosiers just missed going up two goals in the 59th minute when a Brian Plotkin header barely cleared the cross bar on a cross from Tudela.
Notre Dame came up with a scoring opportunity in the 68th minute when John Stephens sent a free kick to the high opposite post. Stewart just missed getting his head on it for the Irish. Due to the CSTV coverage, the kick was followed by a television timeout, allowing Notre Dame a brief break before a final push to even the score in the last 22 minutes.
Notre Dame’s most dangerous scoring opportunity came at 75:00 on a set piece off a free kick from 25 yards out. McGeeney got his head on a ball within the goalie box, but Indiana’s Jay Nolly was there to deflect the ball just wide of the left post.
With the Irish pushing forward looking for the matching goal, the Hoosiers were able to catch the Notre Dame defense unbalanced again. IU’s Kevin Robson streaked down the right side, cut inside to the middle and found the foot of Brian Plotkin, who had an easy opposite post shot to give Indiana a 2-0 lead.
McGeeney broke through with four minutes remaining to mount Notre Dame’s final dangerous scoring opportunity, but Nolly snuffed out the scoring chance before the Irish forward could pull the trigger.
MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame’s match on Wednesday night was its first against a number-one ranked opponent since its 0-2 loss to Connecticut in 1998 … Wednesday night’s match was covered on a tape-delay basis by CSTV … it will be shown on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. … that coverage will also be shown locally in the South Bend, Ind., market on WHME Channel 46 (11 on Comcast cable) … Notre Dame wore its third color green jerseys in the match.