NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame’s history against Indiana in men’s soccer can be defined by two eras, before Bobby Clark and with Bobby Clark. Clark’s decision to get the Hoosiers back on the Irish schedule when he became head coach in 2001 has produced one of the top rivalries in the nation.
The Fighting Irish had just one win in 20 tries against the Hoosiers prior to Clark’s arrival. Since then, Notre Dame has posted a 6-7-1 record against its instate foe.
The latest installment of the rivalry will take place Wednesday as the second-ranked Fighting Irish (4-0-3) play host to the defending national champion Hoosiers (4-4-1). The match is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium.
Men’s soccer at Notre Dame achieved varsity status in 1977 and the program put Indiana on the schedule the following season. The Irish and Hoosiers met 20 times between 1978 and 1997 with Indiana compiling an 18-1-1 mark in those meetings.
The schools did not play each other from 1998-2000, but when Clark took over the Fighting Irish program one of his first decisions was to get Indiana back on the schedule. He wasn’t going to shy away from the team that had won two of the last three national titles, including the 1998 championship that came against Clark’s Stanford squad.
“I was amazed Indiana wasn’t on our schedule when I got here,” Clark said. “One of the first phone calls I made was to (former Indiana head coach) Jerry Yeagley. Early on it was a very good measuring stick for us and now they have not lost anything, but we have come up. It’s a test every year for us and hopefully it’s a test for them as well. We also play every spring and it’s just a fun game for both programs.”
Clark’s first Notre Dame squad went down to Bloomington and came away with a 1-0 victory. In fact, the Irish are 5-3 at Indiana under Clark. The Fighting Irish topped the two-time defending national champion Hoosiers, 2-0, on their home turf during the second round of the 2005 NCAA Championship. The following season, Notre Dame captured an epic 5-4 overtime win at Indiana during the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. Joseph Lapira scored four goals, including the game winner, and he would go on to win the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy later that season.
Those are just two of the more memorable matches for the Irish against their downstate rival.
“This is one of the best rivalries in the country,” Clark said. “This is our equivalent to Rangers-Celtic or Barcelona-Real Madrid. It’s usually a great game and there are bragging rights within the state. It’s also a very important regional game with RPI implications each year. If we both are fortunate enough to make the NCAA tournament, there is a good chance we could play one another and this could give you the advantage as far as who gets the home game.”
The Fighting Irish and Hoosiers split their two meetings last season. Notre Dame claimed a 1-0 regular-season victory in Bloomington and the Hoosiers clipped the Irish 2-1 in double-overtime during the NCAA Championship Round of 16 at Alumni Stadium. Prior to that setback, the Irish had a three-game unbeaten streak against the Hoosiers.
“Indiana is a very good team,” Clark said. “I really feel this is a better attacking team than last year’s team that won the national championship. Their front six are outstanding. This will be a test for us, but it’s a game that we’re looking forward to.”
Notre Dame will bring its undefeated mark into Wednesday’s showdown. This is the fifth time in program history – and the first time since 1988 – that the Irish enter the month of October without a loss. Notre Dame is one of nine Division I programs without a setback this season.
Indiana is off to a 4-4-1 start with all four defeats coming in overtime. The Hoosiers opened Big Ten play on Sunday with a 2-0 home win over Ohio State.
A battle to watch on Wednesday will be Notre Dame’s defense versus the Indiana offense. The Hoosiers have scored two or more goals six times this season, including two four-goal efforts. Notre Dame has allowed just four goals all season long and the team ranks 10th nationally in scoring defense (0.57 gpg).
Senior Patrick Wall has played every minute in goal for the Irish and he has an ACC-best .857 save percentage with three clean sheets. Wall’s 0.52 goals-against average is ninth nationally and first among ACC goalkeepers. Wall and the Irish defense will look to stop Indiana sophomore Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who has a team-high four goals.
After some early-season offensive struggles, Notre Dame has scored three goals in three of its last four matches. Helping lead that charge is senior forward Harrison Shipp, who will bring a career-best five-game point streak into the contest. Shipp has a team-high nine points on three goals and three assists.
The last four meetings between the Fighting Irish and Hoosiers have either been decided by one goal or ended in a draw and another tight encounter could very well be on tap Wednesday night at Alumni Stadium.