Indiana men’s soccer looks to continue its positive streak against No. 3 University of Notre Dame. The Hoosiers will travel to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish in the Elite Eight on Saturday.
The Hoosiers and the Fighting Irish faced each other for their first game of the season on Aug. 24, also in South Bend, and the game ended in an uneventful 1-1 draw.
In the previous encounter, Notre Dame opened the scoring after some miscommunication between senior goalkeeper JT Harms and senior defender Hugo Bacharach on a set piece. However, Indiana responded quickly after freshman forward Collins Oduro slipped through the defense and scored on the one-on-one with Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Bryan Dowd.
“We’ll definitely look at [the earlier matchup between both teams] a little bit, and then we’ll heavily look at the last five games,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said Wednesday. “Different teams, so not a lot of looking back at that game because of some personnel changes.”
Being the first game of the season and having many players debuting, Indiana played a safe game and didn’t suffer much danger in the back.
Despite the relative lack of chemistry with the new players, the Hoosiers exhibited their main style of play early on — pressing the Fighting Irish on their own half and switching formations when things didn’t work out.
The Hoosiers are on an eight-game win streak and have won 12 of their last 13 games. On top of that, the team has scored 27 goals in the 13-game stretch, averaging two goals a game.
The recent stream of goals can be attributed to the good form of Indiana’s offense. Fifth-year senior forward Maouloune Goumballe has a goal contribution in each of the last eight games – five goals and three assists – and senior defenseman Hugo Bacharach’s three of four goals this season have come in the postseason.
Yeagley previously called Goumballe “Mr. November” as a reference for his good form later in the season.
“Someone needs to step up in some capacity and Maouloune was the epitome of a guy that stepped up,” Yeagley said Wednesday. “He said ‘I’d like to be [Mr.] December too.”
Collectively, the team averages 16 shots per game while holding their opponents to eight shots per game. In addition, Indiana averages only 0.8 goals against per game all season.
Indiana is 33-10-4 against Notre Dame overall, including 16-4-2 on the road. The Hoosiers haven’t lost to the Fighting Irish in seven games, and their last defeat was in 2016 in a 0-4 away game.
Indiana has advanced to the Elite Eight in four of the last six seasons, which shows the tradition and winning culture that has become part of the program.
“I think players that see what we offer are also very attracted to it, and they want to be part of it,” Yeagley said. “It just continues to feed the positive energy and the culture that we’ve been able to develop through the years.”
The Fighting Irish
Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 12-2-5 record, including 9-2-2 at home. In the postseason, they have beaten University of Kentucky 2-0 and Western Michigan University 4-2 on penalties.
The Fighting Irish average two goals and only 0.6 goals against per game this season. Additionally, they average 14 shots but allow 12 shots against per game.
Individually, Notre Dame has two players with double-digit goals this year. Junior forwards Matthew Roou has 10 goals and three assists and Eno Nto has 10 goals and one assist.
However, sophomore midfielder KK Baffour – who leads the team in assists with seven – will not play due to suspension after being shown a red card in the last game.
“He’s a guy that can create and open things up for Nto and Roou,” Yeagley said. “But this is probably the deepest Notre Dame team I’ve seen, and, although they may not have a player like him, they’re pretty darn deep so I don’t think it’ll have as big of affect as what you might assume.”
Now, Indiana goes back to South Bend in hopes of getting a better result. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Stadium and the game will be streaming live on ESPN+.