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Indiana men’s soccer hungry for more after perfect Big Ten regular season

Justin Rennicks scored the game winning goal in overtime in Indiana’s 1-0 win over Michigan State. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

In a program with a history as illustrious as Indiana soccer, it’s hard to do things that have never been done before.

But that’s the challenge IU coach Todd Yeagley presented to his team. No team in the Big Ten or in IU history had gone 8-0 throughout the conference slate. That was until the Hoosiers accomplished that in 2018.

“I told them ‘you’re in a run here that’s pretty unique,’” Yeagley said. “’Your goal is to put your mark on it, do things that other guys haven’t been able to do here and no one in this program since the new format in the Big Ten has been able to go 8-0. There’s your new opportunity.’”

That opportunity was seized with aplomb by a team who was hungry. Hungry for a physical representation of accomplishment. It’s something that has eluded the Hoosiers, and this senior class, for too long.

Before Wednesday when Indiana officially clinched the Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 2010, it had been five years since the last trophy was put on the shelf. That was a Big Ten Tournament title. But Wednesday in Columbus was a chance for the Hoosiers to finally lift a trophy, get the t-shirts and hats and celebrate a championship.

That isn’t to say the Hoosiers haven’t accomplished some special things since then, because they have. But that trophy meant a little something extra. Going 8-0 was even better.

“First time ever, sounds amazing,” IU midfielder Frankie Moore said about going 8-0 in the Big Ten. “It’s a huge accomplishment and a lot of hard work that paid off.”

Then fast forward to Sunday. No. 12 Michigan State was in town for an Elite Eight rematch from last season. The Hoosiers could have thrown the game away because there wasn’t anything tangible to play for. With Griffin Dorsey and Justin Rennicks departing for U20 United States Men’s National team duty, it could have been used as a game to try out new players in new spots.

That’s just not this Hoosiers team. Yeagley said they weren’t going to rest those two and use Sunday as a mock game. He wanted to keep everyone sharp. They wanted more. That isn’t to say they aren’t taking in what this title meant.

“The world that we’re in, it’s hard to sit back and just look at what you’re doing in the moment,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said. “Often you got to take a look back for second and look at what you are doing. It doesn’t stop our focus on what we’re trying to do next. We’ve done that a few times this year.”

Since that loss at Kentucky on October 3, the Hoosiers are undefeated and have outscored opponents 9-1. They knew that performance wasn’t good enough. Yeagley took some responsibility for that and pushed it to the side. That enabled the Hoosiers to square back in on their singular focus at the time: a Big Ten regular season title.

Now the first part of the season is complete. The first check mark is in the books with that title. IU’s next focus and goal is the Big Ten Tournament. After a win against a top Michigan State team, the Hoosiers are hoping to ride some momentum into the do-or-die part of the season.

“Here on out, we can’t lose any games,” IU midfielder Trevor Swartz said. “It’s great to get the last win of the regular season and keep it rolling.”

Josh Eastern

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: jeastern@thehoosiernetwork.com. Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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