Indiana opened up its 2018 Big Ten slate with a commanding 3-1 win over Wisconsin.
Cory Thomas opened the scoring in the fourth minute before Andrew Gutman followed up with two more. The Hoosiers had a 2-0 lead and looked like they were coasting until Wisconsin made it 2-1. Gutman then extinguished all Wisconsin hopes with his second goal in the 78th minute, sealing a win for the Hoosiers.
Winning on the road in the Big Ten is always tough, but Wisconsin didn’t pose much of a fight throughout Sunday’s match.
Now for three takeaways from IU’s 3-1 win.
Andrew Gutman the goal scorer
What else is there for Gutman to do? Sunday was another stellar outing for the Indiana left back. Gutman scored IU’s second and third goals of the afternoon and was arguably the best player on the pitch. It’s not often that a left back can make such an profound impact game in and game out, but Gutman has found a way to do just that.
Gutman now leads the Hoosiers with five goals this season. He had seven all of 2017 and still has 10 games left in the regular season, plus the postseason. This could turn out to be a very special year for the IU left back if things continue like this.
He also showed his versatility by playing higher up in the formation in the midfield while Spencer Glass slid back into the left back spot. IU coach Todd Yeagley said there are some tactical advantages they can get by doing that. Don’t be surprised if that happens more moving forward.
Much like Gutman playing the midfield, Yeagley experimented with his starting XI Sunday. Trevor Swartz played an advanced role on the wing, Cory Thomas slid into the midfield and Griffin Dorsey played on the left at times. With such great depth, this is something Yeagley can afford to do.
With so many regular season games left to play, there are plenty more opportunities for the Hoosiers to find the right combination. Austin Panchot has started as of late, but Sunday he came off the bench. Expect to see more shuffling around and small tinkering as the regular season continues until Yeagley finds the perfect combination.
Are the Hoosiers coasting?
Indiana has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. They have been tested and will continue to be tested. But after a long trophy drought, the Hoosiers have their eyes set on bigger prizes in 2018. Sunday at times it felt like IU was so much in control they were just coasting, but that’s okay. It was easy for them. They were in total control. There was never a doubt even when Wisconsin scored.
I think of it as LeBron James in the regular season. He knows his team will be in contention for a title when it comes down to it. Indiana knows they will be in a good spot in the postseason if they keep turning in results like Sunday. This year more than ever, a trophy is something this group needs to attain. Last year was successful, but there was nothing to show for it. A physical representation of success would go a long way with this group.