Nov 26, 2012, 12:51 AM EDT
Notre Dame’s quest for a men’s soccer national championship came to an abrupt end on a frigid Sunday afternoon in Alumni Stadium.
The top-seeded Irish fell to No. 16 Indiana, 2-1, in double overtime in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame’s last five tournament appearances have ended on a golden goal.
Irish senior midfielder Kyle Richard opened the scoring in the 53rd minute with a pinpoint shot from just inside the box off a pass from junior forward Harry Shipp. It was Richard’s third goal of the season.
The Notre Dame lead, however, was short-lived. Less than a minute later, Indiana junior midfielder Nikita Kotlov tapped in a cross that sailed over the head of Irish keeper Will Walsh to even the scoring.
Neither team was able to break the tie in regulation or in a contentious first overtime period. The game was especially physical throughout, and three Notre Dame players and one Hoosier were shown the yellow for their rough play.
Indiana star sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta booked the Indiana’s ticket to the quarterfinals with a header that slipped pass Walsh in the 101st minute.
The Irish battled throughout, but it was clear that Indiana was simply the better team that day. Walsh faced constant pressure and was forced to make eight saves, many of them spectacular. Luis Soffner, the Hoosiers’ netminder and captain, did not record a single save. The visitors outshot their hosts by a tally of 19-11 and dominated in the corner kicks column, 7-2.
Irish head coach Bobby Clark contended that the statistics did not tell the whole story.
“Any time Notre Dame plays Indiana it’s always going to be a great game,” Clark said. “There were periods where we played very well and brought a lot of intensity. In the early stages of the game, I thought we defended superbly and didn’t give them many chances. Somebody’s always going to be heartbroken, and in this case, it was us.”
Clark displayed no lack of pride when discussing his squad’s season as a whole, but stressed that improvements need to be made.
“It’s a great tribute to this group of young men,” Clark said. “They’ve had a terrific season and should hold their heads high. This season has set a standard for those that follow, but we’ve got to go farther. The NCAA’s are the ultimate goal and it’s where we’ve fallen short in recent years. We’re very disappointed but also very proud of what we’ve accomplished this year.”
Indiana moves on to face North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Friday. The Irish conclude their campaign with a 17-4-1 record, their most wins in over two decades.
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