Notre Dame / Indiana Region Men's Soccer 1st and 2nd Round Breakdowns

Notre Dame / Indiana Region 1st and 2nd Round Breakdowns

Although Notre Dame and Indiana are both ranked giving them a bye to the second round, they won’t have it easy in their first matches of the tournament. Notre Dame will face either Michigan State or Cleveland State, both coming off a tough season with a big finish and Indiana has to make it past either Kentucky or Xavier. Indiana will have the tougher challenge in the second round but if they see Notre Dame in the third it will be a battle of offenses with two of the top players in the league, Ryan Finley for Notre Dame and Eriq Zavaleta from Indiana.


#1 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State/Cleveland State

Cleveland State and Michigan State both swept their conference tournaments and are coming off big wins going into the first round of the NCAA tournament. Cleveland State took the Horizon League title with a 2-0 win over Loyola while Michigan State went into overtime with neighbor Michigan with a 2-1 win in the Big Ten tourney. Both teams bring multiple players to the pitch that can put the ball in the net so it will come down to the defensive side of the ball. Cleveland State was able to keep the ball out of the box better than Michigan State in the regular season.

Whichever team that goes up against the Big East champs Notre Dame will need to keep the ball away from Ryan Finley who finished the season with 20 goals, giving the Fighting Irish 48 goals total while allowing their opponents only 18 in the season. Michigan State met up with the Irish in the regular season in a 2-0 loss, so they know what to expect from Coach Bobby Clark, but Cleveland State will go in blind. Again the second round match will come down to the defense but the underdogs, Cleveland State or Michigan State, will have to work a little harder than Notre Dame to stay in the tournament.


#16 Indiana vs. Kentucky/Xavier

Kentucky and Xavier both fell short in the semifinals of their conference tournaments so both teams are eager to move on to Indiana. Kentucky has to go in strong against Xavier’s offense with leading scorers Luke Spencer (13) and Matt Walker (10). Xavier’s defense also is a little more stout with a 0.90 goals allowed per game versus Kentucky’s 1.22. Xavier is the favorite to come out on top in the first round but Kentucky may be the surprise and move on.

Indiana will be well rested before the first tournament match after losing to Big Ten champs Michigan State in the first round of the conference tournament. Indiana falls, statistically, between Kentucky and Xavier so either teams will be a good match up for Coach Todd Yeagley and the Hoosiers. Xavier, with the better offense, will pose a more potent threat to the Indiana defense but Eriq Zavaleta on the offense will the biggest challenge for Kentucky or Xavier.


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