Todd Yeagley’s body language in the second half said it all. Seated on the bench as it began, watching his team struggle to overcome a 2-0 halftime deficit, and barely moving until the final whistle.
While the Adidas/IU credit union classic had been kind to the Hoosiers in recent history, few saw Friday night coming.
Having won 7 of 8 matches in the last four seasons of the classic, a primetime matchup against Creighton presented No. 1 IU with the opportunity of starting 3-0-0.
Creighton had other ideas, though, looking to do what had not been done at Bill Armstrong Stadium since Oct. 10, 2015: Win a regular-season match against Indiana. And the Bluejays did just that, handing the Hoosiers a statement loss, 3-0.
“They outplayed us in every capacity”, IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “Got a lot to learn from”.
Streaks are meant to end, especially one that’s endured for over six years.
However, the signs of an upset began brewing long before Friday night’s letdown in front of 3,391 boisterous fans.
“It’s just disheartening, the amount of fans (that attended the game),” Yeagley said. “…It was not an IU performance. I told [the team] that’s unacceptable.”
The we warning signs started in exhibition play when IU conceded four goals against Louisville. Even the Hoosiers’ first two victories over Notre Dame and Butler, IU’s backline looked unlike their previous selves from just four months ago in the National Championship.
But Friday night was a culmination of mounting defensive issues, one that Yeagley doesn’t yet have an explanation for.
“I can’t put my finger on it right now”, Yeagley said about IU’s backline woes. “If I had the answer to that we’d have given up less goals.”
Though Creighton entered the match winless in their first two games, it took the visitors less than a minute to capitalize on an early IU miscue. Scoring on a costly giveaway by IU goalkeeper Roman Celentano seemed opportunistic for the Bluejays, but their aggressiveness throughout the entire game proved their fast start was no fluke.
Indiana, again, had to face an opponent riding early momentum. Another Bluejays goal in the 43rd minute only made the task of a comeback more daunting, especially with Indiana’s star striker Victor Bezerra sidelined for a second-straight match due to injury.
Facing a two-goal deficit at halftime, Yeagley had little choice but to deploy an attack-heavy lineup for the final 45 minutes. Defense had to be sacrificed for offense, but Indiana was still unable to finish off any chances despite a slew of attacking substitutions. IU’s 12 corner kicks were a season-high, but their total shots were the lowest of the season with just seven.
The lack of scoring chances only compounded an all-around underwhelming performance.
“I didn’t like our attack tonight,” Yeagley said. “…It’s one of those nights when nothing could happen.”
With Bezerra’s return looming, Indiana’s attack should grow to be more potent than it showed Friday night. Until then, the backline will have to patch the holes seen by opponents in early matches and prepare for a tough Xavier team Monday night.
However, the season is still young and Indiana was ranked No. 1 in the country for a reason. This team has been here before, facing challenges that any team with aspirations of winning would have to persevere through.
Teams in search of championships have to overcome adversity, and perhaps Friday night was the wake-up call the Hoosiers needed to regain focus and spark momentum toward another championship run.
Yeagley certainly hopes so.
“Hopefully they learn a tough lesson.”