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‘It’s a learning moment’: Indiana’s first loss comes in frustrating fashion

Victor Bezerra attempts to make a play on the ball during Indiana’s 2-1 loss to Butler on September 24 in Indianapolis. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

INDIANAPOLIS — Joe Schmidt flailed his arms in the air and grabbed his head in frustration as the clock ticked from the 68th to the 69th minute. 

The redshirt sophomore midfielder had been set up perfectly in the middle of the field, about 25 yards from goal. But as he watched his shot sail over the crossbar, he couldn’t help but look on in agony.

It was that kind of night for No. 5 Indiana as it fell 2-1 to Butler at the Sellick Bowl in Indianapolis.

A night where every good chance the Hoosiers had was met with one play-changing touch from the Butler defense. 

A night where Butler executed nearly every chance it got and IU couldn’t find a single answer.

“The game came down to a couple of pivotal moments between the 18’s,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “There was one team controlling the game and that was us. But the game comes down to pivotal moments and credit to Butler, they converted well.”

On paper, it looked like the Hoosiers, who came to Indianapolis with a top-five ranking and an obvious crowd advantage, dominated the match Tuesday night.

Just 18 minutes into the match, freshman forward Herbert Endeley did what he does best. He ran faster than the rest of the field. Endeley broke into the 18-yard box where he was tripped up by Butler’s goalie Gabriel Gjergji, leading to a penalty kick early in the game.

It closely resembled the start of Friday’s match against Wisconsin where an Endeley-earned penalty kick was finished by fellow freshman forward Victor Bezerra.

But Gjergji redeemed himself with a dive to his left to deny Bezerra from the spot and stunt IU’s one true chance on net in the first half.

Just six minutes after avoiding a one-goal hole, Butler switched the narrative on the Hoosiers. Butler’s star forward Brandon Guhl took advantage of a mistake by IU senior defender Jordan Kleyn to put the Bulldogs ahead in the 24th minute. 

“A game can change with a penalty save and them getting a goal,” Yeagley said. “You can’t have a bigger momentum swing in our sport. That all kind of played into it tonight. If we don’t have a penalty and we go down 1-0, I think it’s actually a different feel than it actually is.”

After the goal from Guhl, it felt as if all the momentum had been snatched from IU. It continued to put up shots. The Hoosiers had a 6-1 advantage in shots in the first half and an 18-5 advantage for the game, but nothing to show for it at the break. 

Butler’s attack has been one of its strong suits so far this season and it exposed IU’s defense on Tuesday night. More than once, Butler had an open breakaway. 

Fifth-year senior goal keeper Sean Caulfield struggled again including in the second goal of the game. Caulfield came 10 yards off his line as Butler midfielder Alex Lehtinen buried a goal past the Indiana keeper to give Butler the 2-0 lead in the 52nd minute.

“It was difficult. I don’t think we performed to our standard, especially being an Indiana soccer player,” sophomore defender Jack Maher said. “That carries a little bit more expectations, especially in an in-state game like this. It’s a learning moment, especially for a young team like this. We will keep learning and getting better, it’s all on us.”

Maher pulled the Hoosiers within one late in the game, but IU could never find the equalizer. A night marred by missed chances ended with redshirt freshman Daniel Munie’s last-second header going left of goal.

“It was one of those things where I never really felt like we were out of the game,” Maher said. “We’ve come back multiple times in the season and I just had that feeling that the goal was going to come. We found that last one, but it just wasn’t enough.” 

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