HOOVER, Ala. — Georgetown men’s soccer coach Brian Wiese acknowledges that playing Indiana for the national championship at 2 p.m. Sunday will present more than a few challenges for his team.
But on a personal level, the biggest challenge for Wiese, a former Notre Dame assistant, is the IU fight song.
He was scouting Friday night’s Indiana-Creighton semifinal following the Hoyas’ shootout win over Maryland when the Hoosiers scored, and the band struck up the familiar refrain.
“I thought, ‘Oh, no,’” he said. “All my years at Notre Dame, I had to deal with that fight song, and the fight song always had bad connotations, bad things were happening for us.”
And the thought of hearing that song at any point during this afternoon’s contest would likely just be the result of bad things happening to the Hoyas.
“(At Notre Dame) we played them like twice every year, and the band was always there pumping away, so it was one of those visceral reactions to the fight song,” Wiese said. “I started getting the shakes. I woke up at 1 a.m. in a cold sweat. … That’s a personal issue though, I’m talking to somebody about that.”
Over the last two seasons, Twitter has produced a new theme for the Indiana soccer team — #Q48.
That stands for “quest for eight,” as in an eighth national title for the Hoosiers. Instead of shrinking from that expectation, it’s one the players have welcomed and made their own.
“Our mentality — the #Q48, the quest for eight, the eighth star — it’s been our team motto all year,” IU goalkeeper Luis Soffner said Saturday. “We’ve kind of embraced it, and so has Bloomington and all of our supporters. We’re really excited we could have the opportunity to make it here and to move on to the final. It’s been our goal from day one, and we’re real excited to get that opportunity.”
And if Indiana wins, both the uniforms and the hashtag may need updating.
Indiana sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta was named a third team All-American Friday by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Zavaleta, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year last month, is tied for third nationally with 18 goals scored this season and also has three assists.
The Westfield native was a member of the College Soccer News and Soccer America All-Freshmen first teams last year after posting 10 goals and five assists.
Despite not being one of the 15 MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalsts, has at least one fan in Georgetown’s Wiese.
“Indiana, I think they have one of the best forwards in the country in Zavaleta,” the Hoyas’ coach said. “How he didn’t end up on that Hermann Trophy list, I have no idea. He’s a great target forward, he’s got really good feet. …
“It’s not even the goal-scoring, it’s how he brings the rest of the team into the game that’s special.”
At least one person watching Sunday afternoon’s title game will have conflicting interests.
Amanda Soderlund, the older sister of Indiana backup goalkeeper Michael Soderlund, just completed her junior season as a member of the Georgetown women’s soccer team.
That led her to pose the question Saturday on Twitter, “Hoover Alabama!! Who to cheer for? @IUMensSoccer #georgetownmenssoccer house divided. Another sibling rivalry. But really #whodoicheerfor.”
IU and Georgetown share three common opponents this season, with the Hoosiers going 3-1 and the Hoyas 1-2-1.
Each team played Notre Dame twice, with Indiana splitting the two meetings, while the Irish swept Georgetown. The Hoyas posted a 2-1 win over Penn State, which IU edged 1-0 in overtime, and tied Wisconsin 1-1. The Hoosiers beat the Badgers, 2-0.
Georgetown claimed just nine of its 19 victories this season via the shutout, while Indiana can credit 11 of 15 its wins to keeping the opposing team off the board.
IU goalkeeper Luis Soffner’s 15 wins this season are the most for a Hoosier since Jay Nolly’s 19 victories during the 2004 national championship season.