The No. 8 Fighting Irish found their redemption following a 1-0 Hoosier loss. Despite the normally successful second-half efforts from No. 11 Indiana, the team was unable to find the net following a header goal on a restart from Grant Van De Casteele.
“It was a 45-minute performance,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “You play against a really good team and you play like we did in the second half, maybe we’ll get a goal or two. We had them pinned in, and you felt like it was coming, but the clock ticked away at us.”
The first half began with an Indiana tip and an immediate Notre Dame push of offensive pressure.
In the sixth minute, the Fighting Irish led with a corner from the right side of the field. The ball cleared the pack of players in the box and made its way toward an Irish head on the far post. Sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta came in to block the attempt.
After some lull in the middle of the field, the Fighting Irish regained the attack and gave senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner a chance. The Irish’s Max Lachowecki put his head on a cross coming from the right side of the field. The ball bounced opposite of Soffner’s momentum, and IU’s senior co-captain had to switch his body weight and grab the ball off the line.
“Luckily I was in the right place at the right time, and I just made myself big,” Soffner said. “I got a hand on it, and it just fell right down in front of me. Those shots can go both ways, though. Especially early like that, it can either deflate us or get the other team going.”
The rest of the half followed in the same fashion until IU picked up the offensive pressure toward the 20th minute of the game. The pressure remained right up until the final minute of the half, when sophomore midfielder Dylan Lax dribbled his way into the Irish box for a shot.
The save from Lax’s shot was made just as the halftime whistle blew, allowing the teams to reassess their strategies.
“This entire year we, for our first halves, we have come out slow, and it’s something we definitely need to fix,” junior midfielder Jacob Bushue said. “But as the games go on, we always pick it up in the second half. I thought as tonight’s game went on, we got stronger.”
The second halves are what both teams have known best this season. Coming into the game, the Fighting Irish had outscored their opponents 9-2 in the second half, whereas the Hoosiers had outscored their opponents 12-0 in the final 45 minutes.
It would be Notre Dame who found the net. Dillon Powers put his corner into the box from the right side of the field. Van De Casteele found the cross at the entrance to the box, knocking a header down into the ground. The ball hopped up to the far upper corner of the Indiana goal.
“On a corner kick, their big number 20 from the back had been coming up all night,” Soffner said. “I think Zaveleta was covering him throughout the night, and he was off the field for that restart. Every play we should be strong, though, and we need to have the mentality that we’re going to do everything we can not to let anything up.”
At the time of the goal, Soffner had seven saves while Notre Dame goalkeeper Patrick Wall had none.
Given the Fighting Irish offensive pressure, the Hoosiers were unable to put many shots on goal to challenge Wall.
As the game wound down, junior midfielder Nikita Kotlov was awarded a foul in the final minute near the Notre Dame right corner flag. Corrado took the cross, and Soffner pulled away from his line to get in on the action.
The ball hopped around the middle of the 18 but, as in the other 89 minutes of the game, did not find its way into the back of the net.
The Hoosiers continue conference play at Penn State on Saturday night.
More in Men's soccer
Jordan Kleyn picked up a confidence boost by playing big minutes for IU against Butler Wednesday night.
IU couldn't get it done on the road against Butler.
IU's final nonconference regular season game is Wednesday at Butler.