When the Hoosiers take the pitch this week it won’t be the real deal, but there’s still plenty of reason to pay attention. The squad taking the pitch in cream and crimson won’t be the one that made a run all the way to the College Cup last season as 10 of the 11 starters from that squad either graduated or went pro and because of that there are several questions that need to be answered as the season gets underway.
Who They’ll Play
The opposition in these three exhibitions will be of varying quality which will be a good way to see how IU stacks up. They’ll open with a Bowling Green, which was decidedly not a good team in 2018, at Grand Park in Westfield. The Falcons went 6-7-4 and won just one of their first nine games. They managed to improve as the season went on, but their best win in terms of RPI was against SIU-Edwardsville and it was their lone win against a Top-100 RPI team. Possibly their most impressive result was a 0-0 draw with Akron, a team that went on the finish as the national runner-up.
The second exhibition will be against No. 14 Louisville on Wednesday, also at Grand Park. This is the marquee matchup of the preseason for the Hoosiers, as the Cardinals finished third in RPI last season and is regularly one of the better teams in the nation. If you’re going to try to attend an exhibition for whatever reason, this should be the one. Last season Louisville went 11-5-3 before winning the ACC Tournament. The Cardinals then lost their first NCAA Tournament game, falling 2-1 to Michigan State. This is the exhibition that will at least partially show (as much as an exhibition can) how IU compares with the other big teams in the region.
The final preseason test for the Hoosiers will be Depaul. The Blue Demons went 5-9-3 last year, closing out their season with just one win in their final 10 matches. It’ll be a good final tune-up for the Hoosiers as they prepare to open the regular season with the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.
What to Watch
The biggest thing to watch during this stretch will be the IU lineup—who plays and in what positions. The IU coaching staff is likely going to try a plethora of combinations all over the pitch as the roster is filled with versatile players. Another thing to watch will be how high the Hoosiers set their defensive line in each match. They’ll likely experiment a bit, but they’ve tended to press high up the pitch in the past.
The first scrimmage starts on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. in Westfield. There won’t be a live stream or stats, but the team’s Twitter account will have updates.