I was really hoping to get into watching IU men's soccer and providing regular updates of how the team was doing this fall. However, like many blog ideas we have, this one never came to fruition. Luckily, right now is great opportunity to make up for lost time, as IU men's soccer is peaking and has four straight victories heading into the Big Ten tournament, which starts on Sunday when the second-seeded Hoosiers host seventh seed Wisconsin at Bill Armstrong Stadium at 1 p.m. The full bracket can be found right here:
It's official - Indiana is the No. 2 seed and will host the No. 7 seed Wisconsin on Sunday at 1 PM. #GoIU #Q49 pic.twitter.com/tZqm1NQN6Z— Indiana Men's Soccer (@IUMensSoccer) November 5, 2015
So, how'd we do this season?
The Hoosiers began the season going 3-1 over the course of two weekend tournaments, losing only in overtime to Notre Dame, who is currently ranked 6th in the country. But trouble set in once B1G play began for Indiana. The Hoosiers only went 1-3 in their first four B1G games, including most notably a 4-1 home loss to Rutgers.
Yep, you read that right. Rutgers.
So to be fair, Rutgers is having a pretty good season and are ranked 16th nationally, so this wasn't an embarrassing opponent to lose to, but the loss was out of character with IU's other three losses this season, which only came by 1-0 margins. And in may have been the low point of the season for the Hoosiers, the Scarlet Knights came into Armstrong Stadium on Sept. 20, scored three goals in the first 40 minutes, and never looked back.
Enough of the bad parts, what about the good stuff you promised us?
After an overtime loss to OSU on Oct. 10, the Hoosiers sat at 7-4-1 and needed to close the season out strongly in order to ensure a postseason appearance. A scoreless tie against Maryland came next, but IU closed things off with an impressive four-game winning streak. First, they defeated Louisville 2-1, with a 48th-minute goal by Tanner Thompson being the difference. Then, two 1-0 wins against Michigan and Wisconsin respectively got the Hoosiers back to .500 in conference play. Finally, in a rare Wednesday afternoon game in East Lansing on Nov. 4, the Hoosiers made a statement, winning 4-1, clinching second place in the conference standings, and finishing the season with an 11-4-2 record.
So what comes next for the Hoosiers?
As mentioned earlier, second-seeded Indiana plays host to Wisconsin to start the B1G tourney. This game will be played in Bloomington on Sunday at 1, and I'd highly recommend a trip to Armstrong Stadium to check it out if you can. It's a great, underrated venue, the Hoosier Army student section is always loud, and the weather looks to be a bit chilly but sunny all day. If the Hoosiers win this one, they'll face the winner of Maryland and Michigan in the semifinals, which will be held on Nov. 13 at the highest remaining seed. If top-seeded Ohio State loses in their quarterfinal match and IU wins, then the semis and finals will be held in Bloomington, but most likely, the Hoosiers will travel to Columbus with a win on Sunday.
But what if we lose Sunday? Are we still getting into the NCAA Tournament?
Right now, I'd say yes. Indiana is on the cusp looking in at 26th in the most recent coaches poll. They also have an RPI of 26. With 48 teams qualifying for the tournament, the Hoosiers should probably have a bid locked up. However, a win on Sunday may be the difference between hosting a first-round matchup or going on the road, and a strong tournament run could lock up a top-16 seed, giving the Hoosiers an all-important first-round bye.
Who are the impact players for IU?
In what should be no surprise to anyone who's followed the team in the past few years, Femi Hollinger-Janzen leads the team in scoring with seven goals. Right behind him are Grant Lillard with four, and Tanner Thompson with three. Thompson also has nine assists on the season. Colin Webb is still this team's goalkeeper, and he's had a tremendous season, recording eight shutouts and giving up only 14 goals in 17 games.
Any closing thoughts?
Indiana has eight NCAA men's soccer titles, the most recent of which came in 2012. Every year, head coach Todd Yeagley, son of program patriarch Jerry, seems to have this team playing well down the stretch and in position to make noise in the postseason. So if you're like me and haven't been up to speed on what the team has done this year, now is the time to catch up, because things could get fun really soon.