To explain how much depth IU has at its disposal, look no further than IU midfielder Trevor Swartz.
Swartz is currently second in the nation in assists. He even led the country for a few days after Sunday’s match. It was his second straight match with two assists. But there have been times throughout the season where Swartz has come off the bench. It isn’t because he’s playing poorly. It’s far from that. It’s just because IU coach Todd Yeagley has so many options, especially in the midfield.
IU’s depth was on full display Friday in Evansville against the Purple Aces as the Hoosiers moved to 7-1, earning a 5-0 road win.
“I think form and a couple of guys haven’t played a lot in the past six months,” Yeagley said. “It created a domino of managing this. It’s a good coach’s problem to have when everyone is full tilt and 90 minutes ready and sharp. That would be tough, but a good tough to have.”
The match against North Carolina is one that sticks out. IU played five field players off the bench against the, at the time, third ranked team in the country. Swartz, the assister, and AJ Palazzolo, the goal scorer, were two of those five players off the bench. On the other side, the Tar Heels played just three players off the bench.
The midfield has seen the most rotation thus far. There are legitimately 10 different players who could play in the midfield or on the wings. With only 90 minutes in a regulation match, it just isn’t viable to get all those players on the field maybe as much as they should be playing.
Some guys are relegated to less playing time. But they know the competition within the squad is stiff and playing fewer minutes will keep them fresher as the season progresses. It also makes it harder on opponents to account for IU’s bevy of options.
“When you play less, your legs are more fresh,” Swartz said. “Especially when you’re coming at teams like Wisconsin, they don’t have as much depth. So a Spencer Glass, Austin Panchot, a lot of the other guys, it’s hard to deal with.”
As the season progresses, it’s up to Yeagley to find that formula of success. There are so many things he has to keep in mind. Matchup, fitness and form name a few. But sometimes it’s just as simple as playing the hot hand.
“We will maybe go with what tactically works in that game to start, and then keep adjusting as we need to,” Yeagley said. “If someone’s hot and feeling it, his minutes will grow in that game, and the guys know that. That’s why the rotation is not predictable. They also know that performance is key and they have to perform.”
The rotation will continue barring injuries. But if there is any team that will be able to combat an injury, it probably is Indiana. They dealt with an injury last year to Jeremiah Gutjahr.
But in 2018, the Hoosiers want to be at full strength to reach the peak of the college soccer world. It’s just about whether they can find the right formula and make the right moves at the right times.
“We’ll keep rotating,” Yeagley said. “There’s no prescribed way, we’ll go into a game with a plan and if someone’s playing really well and playing great, then we’ll stay with them.”