Over the extended weekend soccer returned to Bloomington in style. The Hoosiers hosted a pair of matches as a part of the annual Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic and each match was a thriller.
On Friday the Hoosiers took on the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt took a 2-0 lead in stunning fashion, but the match was nowhere near over. Just after halftime in the 50th minute Joshua Penn opened his collegiate account with goal thanks to an assist by Ian Black. In the 57th minute Black found a goal of his own off an assist from Jack Maher. In just over 20 minutes following going down 2-0 IU stormed back to tie it up.
Things would remain tied up until the second period of extra time. In the 103rd minute AJ Palazzolo played a fabulous one-touch through ball forward to Herbert Endeley, who dribbled around the keeper and sent the crowd home happy by burying the game-winner.
IU’s second matchup of the weekend didn’t disappoint either as the Hoosiers took on UCLA on Monday morning following a weather delay on Sunday evening.
As they did in the first game, they fell behind. In the 53rd minute the Bruins opened up the IU defense. A long ball across the field led to a goal and the Hoosiers were down 1-0.
About five minutes later IU answered. Victor Bezerra found the ball just outside the box and rather than pass or dribble the freshman ripped a shot, slotting it home to tie things up 1-1.
Yet again the match was decided in the second overtime period. In the 104th minute the Hoosiers won a corner kick. Spencer Glass lined it up and sent it low toward the near post. Daniel Munie dummied over the ball, it rolled through to the back post and Maher cleaned it up for the golden goal.
“Words can’t really describe what it feels like to get your first collegiate goal,” Maher said. “It’s something that we work on every single day — restarts, restarts, restarts and set pieces.”
The sophomore also gave a lot of credit to the coaching staff and their work before the match even began:
“Through scouting, Coach (Kevin) Robson does such a great job knowing exactly where their weak areas are. We saw that they had two-zone, only one guy on the front post, they were vulnerable at the back post. Spencer said he was going to hit a low ball, Munie got across it and I was just there to finish it up. It was just one of those ‘see ball, kick ball’ moments.”
Glass, the man who sent the cross in on what became the game-winning goal, also shed some light on the preparation and tactics the Hoosiers employed in making that final play a reality:
“We scouted it early just to hit that near post. The quick one that I had to take before the half when it was dwindling down we kind of saw the guys move out a little bit so we talked earlier about trying to go lower and try to see if we could have somebody dummy at that front post and just kind of spit it in the blender and Jack was in the right spot, right time that we prepared for him to get in there.”
1. Fantastic Freshmen
Last season’s recruiting class was and has been heralded as one of the best in the country. In these two games the group of freshmen who saw the field showed precisely why.
Not only did we see goals from Penn, Bezerra and Endeley but the freshmen did things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score.
Aidan Morris was a man possessed for much of the UCLA game. He flew around the pitch from his spot in the midfield, supporting his teammates when need be but also making runs toward the goal and creating some chances on goal.
Bezerra brought a dynamic to the team that hasn’t been overly present in recent years. Against UCLA he showed a lot of confidence as an attacker, trying things that a lot of freshmen wouldn’t. His goal came on a shot from outside the box, something that Hoosier fans haven’t seen a ton of recently. Bezerra’s style of play feels like it should be a big boost for the Hoosiers and could be pretty fun to watch as the season goes on.
Penn not only created the goal for himself, but also created chances for others on multiple occasions. One example came in the second half of the UCLA game. The Hoosiers were on a break and somebody passed the ball to Penn, then he got creative. The freshman flicked a backheel to Thomas Warr, who was crashing toward the goal. The pass was so slick that perhaps it shocked Warr, but whatever the cause he couldn’t finish the play. It didn’t necessarily change the game, but in that play you could see the skill and creativity that Penn brings to the squad.
“He’s just a unique talent. There’s nothing we’ve done yet with him to take any type of credit,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said about Penn. “He can make a goal out of nothing. The way that he’s able to laterally move and keep his disguise it’s kind of Pulisic-like his shiftiness, him getting guys off balance.”
All of this is without mentioning Endeley or Maouloune Goumballe, both of whom got playing time and made an impact in the opening weekend, as well as Quinten Helmer or any of the other freshmen that we haven’t gotten to see yet.
2. Versatile Attack
A big part of both wins for the Hoosiers was their ability to give opponents different looks offensively thanks to their wealth of depth in that department. IU’s stable of players who can play in attack either as wingers or strikers is quite impressive, consisting of Warr, Palazzolo, Penn, Bezerra, Black, Endeley and Goumballe. Then when you also consider that those guys are backed up by Morris and Joe Schmidt in the midfield and Ryan Wittenbrink has been out with an injury to start the season it just makes the depth of the squad all the more impressive. On any given night IU can send out so many guys that are legit goal-scoring threats that it’ll be hard for opponents to lock on to one guy and try to shut him down. Add in that the coaching staff can take those guys and combine them in any number of different permutations and the Hoosiers could be cooking on the offensive end this fall.
“We’re gonna have some unique combinations,” Yeagley said. “The ability to be able to play different skill sets is going to be key.”
3. Cardiac Kids
Hopefully if you were keeping track of the Hoosiers this weekend you had a few spare nitroglycerin pills sitting around, because you probably needed them. Two double overtimes games in just a few days can be pretty stressful, but the Hoosiers managed to make it through unscathed.
Despite all of the excitement surrounding the wins it seems like Yeagley would appreciate it if the Hoosiers didn’t have to sweat it out through extra time moving foward:
“For the coaches it’s always harder in the overtimes because you know the feeling, we’ve been on both sides. Some of these young guys don’t even play sudden victory with their academy and high school teams so they don’t even really know that sudden feeling of victory or defeat. I’ve been on both sides of that plenty of times. It just tears you apart, you’re gutted, it’s just like you’ve been whacked in the stomach. The feeling when you score is like an instant shot of pure joy and you just want to bottle that up.”
On Friday IU will head to South Bend to take part in the Mike Berticelli Tournament hosted by Notre Dame. In their first matchup of the weekend the Hoosiers will take on No. 18 Denver, which should be one of IU’s premier non-conference matchups. On Sunday they’ll follow that up by playing Seattle.