From the get go, it seemed as though IU Head Coach Todd Yeagley had it all figured out. The young Hoosiers came out a completely different team than the one that played against Maryland on Sunday.
The first 10 minutes of the game were all about IU. The Hoosiers, led by the dominant performance by sophomore Tanner Thompson, created chance after chance, making the No.1 team in the nation Notre Dame look far lesser. The goal of the contest—scored by IU senior Patrick Doody—would come in jaw-dropping fashion. Much like a self-guided missile, the corner kick drew a perfect curve through air and the ball hit the target in the bottom left corner of Notre Dame’s goal. It will be a contender for one of the top goals in the NCAA this season. The Hoosiers continued to push until the end of the half, while Notre Dame was in desperate need of recovery after the stunning score.
But, true to their name, the Fighting Irish did fight in the second half. Even though the score did not change through the last 45 minutes, it was one of the best soccer matches I have seen in my life. The Hoosiers didn’t park the bus on their half of the field, but instead kept pushing offensively as both teams exchanged quality counterattacks. The second half kept spectators at Bill Armstrong Stadium on the edge of their seats, from kickoff to the last wave of attack by the Fighting Irish.
Despite Thompson’s fancy FIFA-quality footwork throughout, it was Dylan Lax of IU that gave out one of the best performances of the game and of his career as the midfield destroyer for the Hoosiers. As for Doody, he will most likely remember that transcendent goal of his for the rest of his life.
For non-Hoosier fans, the most obvious question following this contest is what happened to Notre Dame? There must be a reason why the coaches voted the Fighting Irish as the best team in the nation.
This is exactly why I think the game’s MVP award should go under Coach Yeagley and his staff. Notre Dame lined up a 4-4-2 formation, which has four midfielders.
On the other hand, IU went with the 4-5-1 formation, which uses one centerfielder, one defensive midfielder, two wings and only one sticker.
With this match-up, IU has a much more condensed midfield, especially considering two of Notre Dame’s midfielders tend to swing wide on both sides, so that most of the time, there are only two Irish players in the midfield at a time.
IU’s lone striker Andrew Oliver acts as a decoy. His mission was to grab the defensive line’s attention and create space for his teammates to score.
The win was the result of hours of preparation, watching tape and coming up with a plan for the players to execute.
There are many things a player has to be willing to do, and the most important is to sacrifice his pride, become part of the team and fight until the end.
By all means, Notre Dame is a great team. But it was IU who played better as a cohesive until, and it was the Hoosiers who picked up a win after 90 minutes.
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