Indiana will hit the road and travel up north to face the No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Tuesday for its sixth game of the season, coming on the heels of a three game homestand. IU enters Tuesday’s match coming off its most dominant win of 2018 after blanking VCU, 5-0.
Notre Dame enters the matchup with the Hoosiers at 3-0-1. The Irish are coming off their first conference win of the season after defeating Syracuse 3-2 in upstate New York.
This will be the Irish’s second home game of 2018 and, while this isn’t a conference match for either side, it will be a big resume-builder for the NCAA Tournament.
Without further ado, let’s dive in to this week’s edition of Tale of the Tape.
When I look at this Notre Dame team, the attack stands out. The Irish are known for their strong attacking presence every year and 2018 is no different. Senior defender Patrick Berneski has scored in all four of Notre Dame’s matches this season, but the Irish are getting scoring help from others, too. This is a team that spreads the field and utilizes every attacking option when available.
— ND Men’s Soccer (@NDMenSoccer) September 8, 2018
Notre Dame has scored eight goals within the last three matches — something IU hasn’t faced since its trip to North Carolina for the first two games of the season.
It’s hard to pick out a weakness from this year’s squad. Notre Dame is an experienced side that has done well to replace last year’s graduating class. If there is one thing to pick out, it has to be the midfield. IU’s midfield is so strong and deep this season while Notre Dame has some fresh faces in the middle of its formation.
Other than the fact that some players don’t have as much experience as others, this Notre Dame team is about as strong as it gets in the ACC.
Set Pieces Galore
Both teams have found success this season through set pieces and restarts. All three of the Irish’s goals came from set pieces vs. Syracuse last week. One was off a corner kick, another was off a swinging free kick, and the last was a free kick put into the corner of the net.
How are we supposed to pick a favorite?!
— The Fighting Irish (@FightingIrish) September 9, 2018
IU is no stranger to set pieces being its strength, but it’s rare when the Hoosiers face a team that takes advantage of set pieces.
One to Watch
I already mentioned him earlier, but my one to watch this week has to be Patrick Berneski. Any defender that scores goals on a consistent basis will always catch my eye. His current run of scoring at least one goal in every game is impressive.
Berneski catches defenders off guard during set pieces and makes them pay in the air. The Hoosiers have struggled at times defending set pieces this season, and with Berneski’s recent success in front of goal while still fulfilling his defensive duties, that combination could be trouble for IU’s back line.
This will be the third ACC opponent the Hoosiers have faced this season, and all of them will most likely finish near the top of the conference. This is going to be a tough road game for IU, but its recent success and current form will have the Hoosiers riding high up to South Bend. The Irish haven’t faced a team like Indiana this season, so this will be a test for them Tuesday night.
2018 has to be seen as a redemption year for the Fighting Irish after losing in the ACC Semifinals of the conference tournament and falling in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Although some have left the team, the Irish are still an experienced group who returns a good number of starters from last year’s team.
Last season’s matchup only saw one goal between the two sides in a Hoosier victory, but I expect to see more goals this time around.