Apr 17, 2013, 6:38 PM EDT
A day trip to Fort Wayne for a tilt with Indiana has long been a spring tradition for Notre Dame, but this year’s edition of the annual affair was a bit more meaningful than those of previous seasons. Late last fall, the Hoosiers confidently entered Alumni Stadium and proceeded to defeat the No. 1 seeded Irish, 2-1, in the third round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. Indiana went on to win three more games to claim the national title.
From the outset, the Irish were not intimidated by the reigning champions. Notre Dame went into the half up one goal courtesy of a strike in the 40th minute by freshman midfielder Patrick Hodan.
Indiana equalized right at the beginning of the second half. But junior Harry Shipp found the net soon after to put the Irish ahead, 2-1. However, Bobby Clark’s squad was unable to hold the lead. Indiana tied the game mere minutes after the Shipp goal, and scored another with five minutes remaining to account for a final score of 3-2.
Clark said that a large, raucous crowd made for a great environment.
“Every spring we play a game in Fort Wayne, and it’s always great,” Clark said. “We always get a big crowd. Even on a cold and windy day with flakes of snow coming down we still drew over 2,000 people. And it was a very entertaining game for the public.
Despite the defeat, the head coach found many positive takeaways from the game.
“We played much better than we did in the NCAA tournament,” Clark said. “I thought we did a lot of good things. Indiana-Notre Dame soccer games are hugely competitive, and we managed to twice take the lead.”
“We wanted to give people experience in an intense game with a big crowd,” Clark said. “The spring is the time where you’ve got to do that. So we put Michael Shipp in for Luke Mishu for the last 25 minutes and he did well. And it was good to see Vince Cicciarelli playing well again. He could’ve had a hat trick. He really caused a lot of problems for Indiana’s goalie and defenders.”
Clark also lauded the efforts of sophomore midfielder Robby Gallegos and freshman midfielder Connor Klekota. The pair split time playing in Dillon Powers’ old position. Powers, a two-time team captain and consensus first-team All-American, is certainly no easy act to follow. But the skipper maintained that both young players did lots of good things against Indiana.
As for the not-so-good takeaways from the past weekend’s game, Clark was short and to the point.
“Indiana is one of the best pressing teams in the country,” Clark said. “We need to get better at handling that. It’s one of the things we want to become one of the best at, but a game like this shows me we’re not quite there yet.”
Notre Dame will travel to Cincinnati this weekend for a charity game against Xavier that benefits those with Down syndrome. The Irish and Musketeers will do battle Saturday night at 7:00.
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