Oct 2, 2013, 10:59 AM EDT
Being a graduate from Indiana University, tonight’s soccer match between the Irish and the Hoosiers is about the toughest sporting event for me to go through.
In my time at Indiana, some of the best times I had were going to soccer games at Armstrong Stadium (or if you prefer Jerry Yeagley Field). The history of the Indiana program speaks for itself, eight NCAA titles and 18 College Cup appearances. But tonight’s contest between Indiana and Notre Dame will be more about what happened last year, than in the previous 50.
Last season, the Irish beat Indiana, 1-0, at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., on Sept. 26. After the Irish entered the NCAA Championship with a 16-3-1 record and the top seed while the Hoosiers entered as the 16th seed.
As the bracket was announced, it just made sense that the Irish would have to go through the Hoosiers en route to the NCAA title.
Notre Dame ended up falling to the Hoosiers in the round-of-16 in double-overtime, 2-1. Indiana would go on to win their eighth national title with a 1-0 victory over Georgetown in the championship match.
REVIEW OF 2012 NCAA MATCH BETWEEN INDIANA AND NOTRE DAME
With last season’s wins and losses in the rearview mirror, the Irish and the Hoosiers have had much different paths. Both teams lost key cogs on their team to the professional ranks as Ryan Finley and Dillon Powers are now in the MLS representing the Irish and Eriq Zavaleta and goalkeeper Luis Soffner represent the Hoosiers.
Even with the losses of those players, each team came into this season with high preseason rankings, the Irish in the top ten and the Hoosiers as number one.
This season had gone great for the Irish, who are still unbeaten in seven matches (4-0-3) and ranked second in many polls. The Hoosiers on the other hand have dropped from the number-one ranking all the way out of the polls after a tumultuous 4-4-1 start.
I have had the opportunity to watch the Hoosiers on a few occasions this season, so I’ll give you some things to look for in tonight’s matchup.
– Even with the loss of all-american Eriq Zavaleta, the Hoosiers are more potent up front with the addition of hometown product (grew up in Mishawaka) Dylan Mares, a transfer from Louisville and one-time BIG EAST Freshmen of the Year, and Tommy Thompson.
– To beat the Hoosiers it’s simple; force their backline to make plays. Their defense has been a little suspect this season after the loss of their defensive play-caller, Soffner. Soffner was the ‘keeper for the Hoosiers for four years and has been missed so far this season.
– One thing you don’t want to do is get in an up and down game with Indiana. Their ability to counter from the outside is unbelievable and they have a bevy of guys who are great at playing the ball in the air. Femi Hollinger-Janzen and Nikita Kotlov are some of the strongest players I have seen at attacking the ball in the air off the cross, combine that with Mares’ unique ability with finding creases in the goal mouth, this Hoosiers attack is one of the nation’s strongest and is looking to make a huge mark after starting slow this season.
If you can’t make it to Alumni Stadium tonight for the match, you can always watch live at WatchND.tv at 7 p.m. (ET).
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