By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SOUTH BEND — When Femi Hollinger-Janzen makes an appearance at Notre Dame in some ways it’s more of a home game for the Indiana University sophomore than for the Fighting Irish players.
The former Bethany Christian High School standout had enough of a personal cheering section among the 2,042 fans in attendance at last Wednesday’s game at Alumni Stadium to receive a bigger ovation than the Irish players during the introductions of the starting lineups.
The only Indiana-born player on the Notre Dame roster is junior Max Lachowecki (Evansville).
“It’s nice to have that kind of support,” Hollinger-Janzen said. ”I have very good parents (Rod and Lynda Hollinger-Janzen) and friends.”
Among the locals in attendance was Hank Willems, Hollinger-Janzen’s coach at Bethany. He is now working with the Middlebury Magic youth soccer program.
“We canceled practice tonight and ended up with about 30 kids here,” Willems said. “They wanted to see Femi.”
Goshen resident Lyle Miller was there with the youth group from Waterford Mennonite Church.
“We have about 30 youth and 20 adults from our church here,” Miller said.
The outcome wasn’t what the Holilnger-Janzen contingent was looking for as the second-ranked Fighting Irish defeated the defending national champion Hoosiers 2-0.
“Notre Dame has a really nice team,” Indiana coach Todd Yeagley said. “Their defense is excellent and the Irish are a physically strong team.”
Hollinger-Janzen played 55 of the game’s 90 minutes. The starting midfielder didn’t have any shots on goal, but nearly had an assist on one of IU’s best scoring chances. At the 34-minute mark of the opening half he passed the ball to senior midfielder A.J. Corrado (Zionsville) whose shot was just wide of the net.
“Notre Dame was the better team. The Irish deserve the No. 2 ranking,” Willems said. “IU isn’t as physically strong as the Irish and that is one of the reasons why they didn’t have the ball enough for a good offense.”
Hollinger-Janzen entered the contest tied with senior midfielder Nikita Kotlov (Indianapolis North Central) with eight points. Hollinger-Janzen had a team-high four goals while Kotlov had three goals and two assists. Hollinger-Janzen has already matched his scoring total from his freshman season.
His goals this season have been against SMU, Bakersfield, Butler and Ohio State.
The fourth goal involved a little bit of being in the right place at the right time. Senior Harrison Pitts (Zionsville) launched a line-drive shot that bounced off Hollinger-Janzen as he was positioning himself for a possible rebound.
He is back playing after surgery this summer for a torn meniscus in his left knee. The meniscus cushions the knee and keeps the knee steady by balancing a person’s weigh across the knee.
“The surgery was in mid-June,” Hollinger-Janzen said. “I should be back playing by now, but I’m not 100 percent yet. I need to get into shape and work on my conditioning.
“Conditioning is important, the college game is much more physical than it was in high school.”
“Femi is still working his way back into top shape. I could see it tonight. It shows more at this level,” Willems added,
Hollinger-Janzen was practicing with the U-20 National Team in Columbus, Ohio, when the injury occurred.
“I just landed on it wrong,” he said. “I wasn’t sure right away what had happened.”
The Hoosiers were 4-5-1 after the Notre Dame loss, which was the first loss this season not involving overtime.
A year ago, Hollinger-Janzen appeared in 24 games (four starts) for the Hoosiers. He scored the game-winning goal in the 27th minute in a 1-0 win over Creighton in the College Cup semifinals and came off the bench for three shots in a 1-0 win over Georgetown in the NCAA Championship as the Hoosiers won their eighth national title. He was named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team, the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and to Soccer America All-Freshman second team.
“Femi is doing well. He is still learning,” Yeagley said. “His technique is growing each week. He needs to play with a little more confidence and he needs to read the other team a little quicker. He is an up-and-coming player.”
Hollinger-Janzen scored a school-record 67 goals in his four-year career at Bethany. He also had 23 assists. He led Bethany to a Final Four appearance in the 2011 state tournament, was a first-team all-state selection and the 2011 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year.