With just two days to prepare, No. 8 Indiana will resume its in-state rivalry with reigning NCAA champion and top-ranked Notre Dame Wednesday at Bill Armstrong Stadium at 7 p.m.
”Notre Dame is a team that returns a lot from a team that won it,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “They’re well-coached, they’re disciplined. We’re going to have to be really, really good that day to get the result.”
The Fighting Irish are lead by junior midfielder Patrick Hodan, who has scored a team-high six goals this season including two in Notre Dame’s most recent match against Duke.
”Hodan’s a really good player,” IU senior defender Patrick Doody said. “He’s sneaky, he’s got really good ball skills. He’s always a challenge. Taking care of him will definitely help our odds.”
Hodan is one of 10 different players who have accounted for the Irish’s 21 goals this season. Maryland, the Hoosiers’ last opponent, had its 17 goals scored by eight different players.
But just because Notre Dame is a high-scoring team does not mean the pressure IU experiences against the Irish will be the same pressure they experienced against Maryland.
Doody said that the team always points out after every match against Notre Dame how well organized the Irish are. He also said Notre Dame is efficient in the way it pressures other teams.
” I don’t know if they’ll pressure as much as Maryland,” Doody said. “Maryland, that (pressure) was something we had not seen. But it’ll be fast-paced, especially at the beginning.”
What Notre Dame and Maryland do have in common is that they are both College Cup-level teams. And when the Hoosiers face the Irish Wednesday, it will mark the second time in four days they’ve faced a team worthy of playing in the College Cup this season.
”The season’s not riding on (Wednesday),” Yeagley said. “(But) we’ve still got to keep getting results and finding ways to win against all of our competition. It’s another great battle against an in-state rival, so it has some emotional components to it.”
Notre Dame is the reigning College Cup champion, while IU won the College Cup the year before. However, IU redshirt senior midfielder Dylan Lax said it’s not something the Hoosiers will be focused on when they take the field.
”We respect the fact that they’re a good team,” Lax said. “They’re well organized and what not, but we feel the same way about ourselves. We’ve played against really good teams this year that have prepared us for games like Wednesday.“
In preparing for the defending champions with such a short amount of time, the Hoosiers know important this game will be for setting the tone for the reaminder of the season.
”If we want to be a top team, we have to beat the top teams,” Doody said. “Couldn’t get the job done (Sunday), so luckily we have two more days now to get another test at a top team. Getting a result will be big for us.”