Opening weekend has come and gone for the IU men’s soccer team, meaning that they might have already gotten their two biggest tests of the regular season out of the way.
On their weekend road trip the Hoosiers suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to No. 5 Wake Forest (2-0) before bouncing back to take a 1-0 win against No. 3 North Carolina (1-1).
IU (1-1) kicked off the weekend against the Demon Deacons on Friday. After a scoreless first half Wake Forest got in the board quickly in the second. In the 48th minute forward Omir Fernandez put the Deacs ahead 1-0 with a shot into the top right corner of the goal from the left side of the box.
In the 73rd minute the Hoosiers finally broke through as sophomore midfielder Griffin Dorsey scored on a first touch strike that was set up by senior defender Andrew Gutman and sophomore midfielder Spencer Glass.
This sent the game to extra time where, unlike much of the rest of the world, the NCAA plays sudden death soccer, meaning that the first goal wins the game in the two extra time periods. The first extra time period went without a goal, but with just three minutes left in the match Wake Forest’s Kyle Holcomb netted the golden goal to give the Deacs the win.
On Sunday the Hoosiers traveled to Cary, North Carolina for a rematch of last year’s College Cup semifinal with North Carolina.
The Tar Heels had an early advantage in shots, leading the Hoosiers in that category 9-1 in the first half. That came in stark contrast to Friday night’s results for IU, as they outshot Wake Forest 12-8 in the loss.
In the 88th minute the tie was finally broken as sophomore defender A.J. Palazzolo headed in a free kick from senior midfielder Trevor Swartz for his first career goal.
Splitting two hard fought games against two of the best teams in the country on opening weekend is about as good as things could’ve realistically gone for the Hoosiers, especially when factoring in that they were breaking in a new starting center back in freshman Jack Maher. Palazzolo making such a big contribution this early is a good sign as well for IU fans, as the versatile sophomore is coming off of a season where he sat out with an injury.
The Hoosiers will return to the pitch this weekend in Bloomington as they host the IU Credit Union Classic at Bill Armstrong Stadium. They’ll take on No. 23 Dartmouth on Friday and then UConn on Sunday.