South Bend, Ind. The Notre Dame men’s soccer program initiated a new member to its goal-scoring fraternity Wednesday evening when junior forward Vince Cicciarelli put the second-ranked Fighting Irish on the board in the 21st minute en route to a 2-0 victory over Indiana at Alumni Stadium.
Cicciarelli has battled through injuries during a good portion of his Fighting Irish career, but Wednesday it was the Hoosier defense that he was battling. The goal sequence began with a pass from senior forward Harrison Shipp and Cicciarelli drove past Indiana defenders who were draped on him inside the 18-yard box and the big forward placed his shot past Hoosier goalkeeper Michael Soderlund, who had come off his line.
“Harry (Shipp) played it to me and I just used brute force at the end to get it in,” Cicciarelli said. “It was awesome to get the first goal; my grandma and parents were here tonight. I think this was the longest drought in my career without scoring a goal, but we’ve been winning so I don’t care if I score or not as long as we get the job done.”
“This might be the monkey off Vince’s back a little bit,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “He was terrific all game and getting the goal was the icing on the cake, but I think that’ll be the first of many for him. Indiana really had a hard time trying to handle Vince and I thought he certainly was one of our top players tonight.”
Notre Dame (5-0-3) kept the pressure on in the opening half and senior forward Leon Brown nearly connected in the 30th minute, but his shot from eight yards out deflected off the crossbar. Two minutes later, sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan had his attempt punched out by Soderlund.
Hodan, who had a game-high five shots on goal, wouldn’t be denied in the 35th minute. After receiving a pass from Shipp, Hodan weaved past a Hoosier defender and sent his shot to the far past and into the back of the net for his third goal of the season. Shipp’s two-assist performance upped his career-best point streak to six games and he now has a team-best 11 points (3g, 5a) this season.
Indiana (4-5-1) actually had the game’s first two scoring chances. In the 11th minute, Tommy Thompson headed the ball to the near post, but Irish goalkeeper Patrick Wall was there for one of his three saves on the evening. The senior goalkeeper was needed again in the 18th minute to punch a shot from Indiana’s A.J. Corrado over the crossbar.
Notre Dame had the game’s only shot on goal in the second half. The Fighting Irish outshot the Hoosiers 17-8 in the match, while Indiana gained one more corner kick (7-6). Soderlund compiled four saves for the Hoosiers.
“Indiana’s goalkeeper had some very good saves tonight,” Clark said. “When we got up 2-0 we realized the game wasn’t over, but I feel we handled the game well in the second half. It would have been nice to get a third goal because that would have taken the pressure off. There always was a little bit of tension throughout the game because Indiana is a very good team. They are one of the best attacking teams that we’ll play all year.”
Notre Dame blanked an Indiana offense that entered tonight’s match averaging two goals per game. The Fighting Irish have allowed just four goals this season. Wall boasts a 0.46 goals-against average with four clean sheets.
Tonight’s victory improved Notre Dame to 3-8 all-time when facing the defending national champion. The Irish have won the last two encounters with a Hoosier team that was coming off the national title.
The Fighting Irish return to Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday at Clemson. The showdown is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at Riggs Field.