Getting a win to close out the weekend was absolutely huge for the Hoosiers.
After a grueling start to the season against two top five teams, No. 6 Indiana comes back home at with a win and a loss. Coming off a brutal overtime loss to Wake Forest, the Hoosiers needed a result and they got it.
It came from an unlikely source in freshman AJ Palazzolo scoring in the 88th minute. Nonetheless, the Hoosiers got a win against a really good North Carolina team.
Now to the three takeaways.
Trey Muse is still really good
It really doesn’t need to be said again that sophomore Trey Muse is one of the best goalkeepers in the country. Some of the saves he made and other shots he made look easy was very impressive. North Carolina was peppering the goal all night long. The Tar Heels had 11 shots compared to just Indiana’s three and Muse came up with three saves.
He did have to come out for a few minutes due to a knock picked up in the second half, but he did end up returning to action. It was not clear what the injury was as he walked off the pitch slowly with the trainer. Muse does a great job with his positioning and keeping his defense in check and he did just that against a potent North Carolina attack.
However, right after halftime, North Carolina almost caught Muse off his line from about 45 yards out. The shot did end up hitting the crossbar, luckily for IU.
Depth Showing Early
Indiana had just three shots all game long, but made them all worthwhile as they were all on goal. Of those three shots, two of them came from players who weren’t in the starting XI.
IU coach Todd Yeagley used five field players off his bench compared to North Carolina’s three. Against a top five team like North Carolina, being able to go that deep into your bench and keep a similar level of quality is a good sign for the Hoosiers.
The midfield depth is something the Hoosiers should be able to lean on this season and have done so already with Austin Panchot leaving early with a knock. With the first two weekends providing four matches for the Hoosiers, expect a deeper bench as Yeagley tries to keep players fresh.
Yes, it was a tough road match and yes, there are players being asked to step up their play as sophomores (or freshman), but the attack lacked a bit. North Carolina is one of the better backlines in the country, but the Hoosiers had five corners and only managed three shots.
Last season, the Hoosiers were able to lean on Mason Toye as the season went along. He scored 10 goals. But now in 2018, it’s up to strikers Justin Rennicks, who is coming back from a foot injury, Thomas Warr, who is looking to make the next step up after scoring a few goals last season, and freshman Ryan Wittenbrink, who has yet to play. If the strikers can’t get it done, it will be up to the midfield to help out.
Yeagley has mentioned senior Cory Thomas who could take the next step after seven goals last season. It could also be guys like Trevor Swartz or Griffin Dorsey, who scored against Wake Forest.
The positive is the Hoosiers may not play a tougher opponent all season long and they did score in both. So take this weekend with a grain of salt because of the tough opponents, but there are some common themes to follow.
- Austin Panchot exited early in the first half with an injury and did not return. The broadcast said it was an ankle injury, but that is unconfirmed. His progress will be monitored heading into this weekend.
- Timmy Mehl exited towards the end of the first half and also did not return for the rest of the match. His status is unconfirmed. It could be a coach’s decision or an injury. However, replacing Mehl at center back next to freshman Jack Maher was Jordan Kleyn. There were a few options as to whom it could be coming into the season, but it appears Kleyn was the chosen backup on Sunday.
- AJ Palazzolo scored the dramatic game-winning header in the 88th minute and featured solely as a forward over the weekend. It was his first career goal. Palazzolo is a player who Yeagley thinks could play all over the field this season, but striker works if you’re scoring goals. He was also named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
- Both of IU’s next two opponents are ranked for this week’s adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. Dartmouth is No. 22 while UConn is No. 18.