Seeing your favorite team play on the road is always a fascinating experience, and you never know how they will fare outside the comforts of their home environments. After playing five of their past six contests at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, IU men’s soccer faced an important road test last night against Louisville. The Hoosiers, ranked 10th nationally by the NSCAA Coaches Poll, controlled the pace of the game early, and easily defeated the 18th-ranked Cardinals, 3-0. Indiana led the game 1-0 at halftime thanks to a Grant Lillard goal in the 37th minute, and tacked on two goals from Jamie Vollmer and Andrew Oliver early in the second half to put the game out of reach. By the time Louisville was able to get their offense rolling, it was too late, and IU goalkeeper Colin Webb made a couple terrific saves to preserve the shutout. For more information on last night's game, I live-tweeted it over at the TCQ twitter account.
As a new Louisville resident, I was excited to see the Hoosiers play last night in town at the University of Louisville’s brand new soccer facility, Lynn Stadium. And as it turned out, I was hardly the only IU fan to make the trip to the game. Hoosier fans made up a good section of the crowd, and were very vocal throughout the match. After the third goal, a "Let's Go Hoosiers" chant drowned out the home crowd, and Hoosier Army members waved IU flags throughout the game. The influx of Hoosiers fans to Louisville did not surprise me, as it's only a two-hour drive from campus, and there are plenty of Hoosier fans and alums in the Kentuckiana region. Hopefully Fred Glass and Tom Jurich were taking notes, and that the two ADs can schedule a home-and-home basketball series in the future instead of just a one-off game in New York City.
This game also serves as a good chance to check up on how the team is doing overall. The Hoosiers are 7-1-3 through 11 contests, with a 1-1-1 conference record. The Hoosier offense started out the season slowly, but after a 4-2 victory over UCF in late September, they have begun to find their stride. In addition, the defense has only given up more than one goal in a game once this season. While Indiana ranks tenth in the nation in the NSCAA poll, they are #5 in the RPI rankings nationally for men's soccer. An impressive road victory over Louisville means that these rankings will likely go up when next week's polls are released. Thus, the Hoosiers have a very good chance of securing one of the top 16 national seeds in the 48-team NCAA Tournament that begins in late November. If you recall from 2012, when the Hoosiers last won the national title, IU came into the tournament as the 16th and final seeded team. Getting one of these seeds is important, because it would provide the team with a bye into the secound round of the single-elimination tournament.
As for now though, the focus is on the conference, as 5 of Indiana's final 7 regular-season games are against B1G opponents, including their next one on Sunday at Ohio State. After that, Indiana will have a chance to defend their Big Ten tournament title in mid-November before the NCAA tournament starts. If Indiana's offense continues to put up goals in bunches like they have in recent games, and Webb continues to make the type of saves that he did last night, then the Hoosiers should be right in the mix for the rest of the season, as they continue their quest for their ninth men's soccer national title.