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Indiana soccer this week: Two draws that could have been more

Two games against top teams, two double-overtime games, and not a lot to show for it.

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this is a soccer ball.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

You may or may not be aware of this, but the Indiana University soccer program is reasonably good! I found this out on Wikipedia, where it says that “by a number of indicators, the Hoosiers are one of the greatest soccer programs in the history of the sport.” Not bad, guys!

I am, of course, actually already aware of this, but you know, you have to start a new feature somewhere. I got the job of covering soccer for this fine establishment because Swick’s only been a soccer fan for like a year, and Jacob Rude’s a Manchester City fan so he can’t be trusted. Also I have some history with writing about the sport, so. Anyway, there’s some excitement.

No pressure.

We’re going to take a look first at where the season stands overall, since we’re starting fresh, then we’ll delve into what happened this week and what’s coming up for the Hoosiers next week.

The story so far

Before this week, IU only played three matches, all wins. After beating #6 UCLA 2-0 in an exhibition, Indiana beat New Mexico 1-0 and UC Irvine 3-1 in South Bend. The last was a 2-1 win against Cal in the first game of the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic (we’ll talk about game two against Stanford in a moment). California was ranked #22, so you know, that’s a pretty good win.

This week’s game(s)

First up this week was Stanford, who were the preseason #1 team in the country, and are listed as #4 on the schedule. What ranking the IU webmasters uses is a mystery, as the ranking for the week’s second game was a bit screwy (but we’ll get to them later). Suffice it to say that Stanford is Good, and a win would be huge. That, of course, did not happen. This did though:

No foul was called, as you might guess.

Your final score was 0-0, which was particularly impressive as Indiana played over half the match down to ten men. Defender Grant Lillard was sent off with two minutes left in the first half (or the 43rd minute, for those who like me hate the coutdown clock); holding the reigning national champs to no goals for 67+ minutes while missing a player is pretty damn good defending, even as the home team. One wonders what might have come if Yung Draymond Green had been sent off, but that’s soccer.

Friday night saw Maryland come calling to Yeagley Field for another matchup of top-ranked teams (not to mention the opening of the Big Ten schedule). I’ll go with the NSCAA Coaches rankings (as they actually make some semblance of sense) which had Indiana at #4 and Maryland at #5 going into the game. Your final score was a better indication of the even matchup than the actual match was.

IU scored early, as Maryland failed to clear a corner in the seventh minute, and an Andrew Gutman shot was blocked into the path of Richard Ballard. Ballard finished despite the traffic, and from there until halftime it was all Hoosiers. It could have been 2-0 or 3-0 before halftime, as a couple of good chances went begging.

Maryland recovered some in the early stages of the second half, but IU still was in control – they had a number of good chances in the second as well, including a Rashad Hyacenth shot that hit the post.

Chances for IU kept coming, but they couldn’t put one away and they were made to pay. A late clearance led to an offside call that wasn’t needed, and the ensuing free kick from deep in the Maryland end bounced around in the box for a second before Alex Crognale put it in. Overtime went by without another goal, and that’s how you end up with a 1-1 draw despite being by far the better team for most of the game.

Man of the match-week

I’m going to go with Rashad Hyacenth. He didn’t score, but had a very good game against Maryland as the lone (in practice, at least) striker. He was tasked with playing as a target man, holding up play for the other forwards and doing adult work fighting off physical defending from the Terrapin back line for the whole match. He hit the post once, but most of his efforts were more unselfish and in what felt like about 10,000% humidity, that much post play (ed. note: this is a basketball school) can get to you. I’m assuming that’s why he didn’t see the field in overtime, because the Hoosier offense definitely missed his presence.

Coming up

Next up for IU is a visit from Michigan on Wednesday. The Wolverines haven’t won yet this season, which is not ideal for them. Four draws and a loss; that includes a 2-2 draw against #19 USF and an overtime loss at Wisconsin to open Big Ten play. Sophomore Francis Atuahene is the only Michigan player with multiple goals, so it appears shutting him down will go a long way for Indiana.

Next after that comes Northwestern, who will face Wisconsin at home before coming to visit Bloomington. The Wildcats have had a bit more success this year, as they’ve actually managed to win a game (their opener, against Florida Gulf Coast – evidently Dunk City doesn’t apply to soccer), but have dropped four straight including their B1G opener against Ohio State. They’ll also face Wisconsin next week, so we’ll have one more look at them before they come to town.