SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s defense was just too much for IU Tuesday night.
It didn’t help when the Hoosiers found themselves in a three-goal hole within the first 25 minutes of the game, but the stingy Fighting Irish defense didn’t do the Hoosier offense any favors either.
IU entered the game leading the nation in average shots per game with just more than 19 but were limited to 10.
In previous games it had been the quality of shots that were an issue for the team. The quantity was there, but very few chances were finding the back of the net. On Tuesday night the Irish defense stopped the flow of IU’s offense.
“I thought they pressed us pretty early, and we weren’t able to break through them, and I think on another night we would have been better at,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “We didn’t create enough corners tonight, and, as much as they defend narrow, you have to get on the edge, and we were naïve in some of our decision-making.”
IU didn’t always have a tough time on offense, especially early in the game before the Irish jumped on the scoreboard. Within the first five minutes, the still confident Hoosiers had two chances to score with shots on goal by senior midfielder Phil Fives and sophomore defender Andrew Gutman.
Senior forward Richard Ballard even got into the mix with some fancy footwork of his own after senior midfielder Tanner Thompson made a quality run down the field to set him up.
The offense couldn’t finish on any of the occasions, which didn’t make or break the game at that point but could have played a factor on the scoreboard later.
The Irish struck in the 13th minute, and the Hoosiers could never regain control on the offensive end.
“I thought the first ten minutes we started really well and had two good looks that we didn’t get a shot off, and then their goal kind of just stung us,” Yeagley said. “Really after that we couldn’t find any facet of our game, and we were really searching tonight.”
The Notre Dame defense, which features three players 6-foot-1 or taller, were able to body up some of the smaller IU offensive weapons. Attackers like 5-foot-7 Thompson and 5-foot-6 sophomore midfielder Rees Weddeburn, who generally use their speed to get around the outside of opposing defenses, weren’t able to do so at any point in the game.
Yeagley was forced to motion to his bench early, as he looked to inject some life into his squad’s offense after the Irish scored three goals. He wasn’t able to find much from his reserves either.
Junior forward Rashad Hyacenth entered the game after the third Irish goal and was able to create a couple of scoring opportunities by rising above the tall Notre Dame defense, but it was to no avail.
To start the second half, Yeagley elected to start four reserves, including Hyacenth, to find a combination to put the Hoosiers on the board. IU still came up empty-handed.
“I don’t think we came to play tonight,” senior defender Derek Creviston said. “They played well. Notre Dame is a great team, they took us out of our rhythm, and we didn’t fight like we should have.”
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