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IU’s seniors have unfinished business, but a 4-0 win on Senior Night was a ‘sharp’ next step

Todd Yeagley couldn’t have scripted it any better — the weather, the performance, the final result.

If there was ever a time and place for Indiana to honor its departing seniors on Senior Night, it was Wednesday night in Bloomington against a VCU team who entered as one of IU’s most dangerous non-conference opponents and exited with a 4-0 beatdown at the hands of the Hoosiers.

But beyond the 90-minute, one-sided affair that had Bill Armstrong Stadium’s crowd on the edge of its seat all match, there was one particular moment that trumped all else in Yeagley’s eyes: “For the seniors… It was great to get them all on the field.”

As all four seniors trotted on and off Jerry Yeagley Field for one of the last time’s in their careers, the moment became bigger. It was almost as if each of the quartet became different embodiments of the very pillars that IU’s program has rested on for decades.

First, there’s Isaac Sarosy — the four-year walk-on who came to the program knowing playing time would likely be sparse, yet still worked his tail off every single day in training as if he were a key contributor.

Next, there’s Joe Schmidt — the 5-foot-9, tough-as-nails midfielder who’s been charged with leading Yeagley’s so-called ‘engine room’ in the midfield, a role that is arguably as important as any in the program.

Then, there’s Nyk Sessock — the only player on IU’s roster who didn’t start his career in Bloomington but came via the transfer portal, and has stabilized the right-back position since the moment he arrived.

Finally, there’s Spencer Glass — the six-year veteran who had to wait his turn for three years, stuck behind the likes of MAC Hermann Trophy winner Andrew Gutman, before finally ascending to the role of IU’s unflappable left-back and unquestioned captain.

Four seniors. Four entirely different journeys and roles. One night to soak it all in.

“It’s always good to put a team away early and get some other guys on the field that you want to see,” Glass said. “To get Isaac out there and Trey (Kapsalis) and some other guys, yeah, couldn’t ask for anymore.”

Not only did Indiana put away VCU early, it did so in less than 11 minutes from the first touch.

All-American striker Victor Bezerra opened the scoring just 2 minutes, 50 seconds into the match as freshman Sam Sarver threaded a pass between three Rams defenders to a streaking Bezzera, who promptly buried his sixth goal of the season with a toe-tap shot to the far post.

But the Hoosiers weren’t satisfied with one early goal, and Sarver wasn’t satisfied with only the assist. So in the 11th minute, Glass sent a cross inside the 6-yard box that dipped and dodged its way past VCU’s last line of defense and found Sarver all alone at the far post for the tap-in score.

Ten minutes and 26 seconds. That’s all the time it took for Indiana to assert itself on its home turf, and VCU seemingly had no answer. In fact, across the full 90 minutes the Rams mustered just one lone shot and three corner kicks compared to IU’s 20 shots — seven on frame — and 17 set piece opportunities. Indiana junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano didn’t even face a single VCU shot on target.

After leading 2-0 at halftime, Indiana eventually tacked on two more goals in the second half for good measure. Sarver secured a brace in the 52nd minute as he volleyed a cross from Herbert Endeley to give IU a 3-0 cushion, then Ryan Wittenbrink put the final stamp on the match with a 57th-minute laser from the top of the 18-yard box — his third goal of the season.

From opening whistle to final whistle the Hoosiers seemingly never fell out of control, much to Yeagley’s pleasure.

“It was a really sharp performance from the whole group,” Yeagley said. “To give a team of VCU’s quality… just, like, not many dangerous attacks says a lot.”

And in particular, Sarver’s five points especially stood out to Yeagley among the litany of other IU positives.

“Getting Sam two goals was really a big moment tonight for us,” Yeagley said. “He’s been up and down the last six, seven games. He started really bright, and he’s playing well in training, and we thought tonight would be a game to get him hopefully rolling and he rolled.”

Perhaps lost in the pomp and circumstance of IU’s dominant victory and extension of its seven-match shutout streak, however, is Glass, who tallied his second assist of the season but has looked healthier and healthier as the season has progressed.

Of course, a return to top form was never going to be easy for Glass after suffering a broken leg just seven months ago on March 27, and his steadily improving play is evidence of that. But even when he’s not contributing tangible statistics, it’s his calmness and demeanor that has meant even more for the Hoosiers.

Take, for example, IU’s run to the College Cup last season. Glass could’ve opted to stay home and rehab, rather than traveling to Cary, North Carolina, and entering the quarantine bubble with the Hoosiers. But what kind of captain would he be if he simply chose to sulk in his own misfortunes?

“Spencer’s been a really important player for our program,” Yeagley said, “and the way he was able to support the team last year — one of the most difficult years any kid could have, dealing with COVID and the season and his own personal setback with the broken leg — he was phenomenal.

“The whole entire NCAA Tournament run he was right by the team, encouraging them and leading and supporting. He’s a great teammate.”

It all came full circle for Glass on Senior Night, his leg finally “100 percent”, per himself, and his presence manifesting both on the final scoresheet and in the final result.

That kind of leadership and resiliency, Yeagley said, is something all current and future Hoosiers can learn from.

“He’s also just a great example of a player that came in and was obviously heralded,” Yeagley said, “but took some time to find his way, and redshirted, kind of supported Andrew Gutman, and (became) the starter. That’s the story other players need to know.

“It may not be an instant, but if you wait and you continue to develop then — obviously he’s an All-American, he’s got opportunities at the next level, there’s all kinds of things coming Spencer Glass’s way.”

But those future opportunities will have to wait a little bit longer because Glass and the senior class still have unfinished business to tend to: a fourth-straight Big Ten Double and, of course, the coveted ninth national championship.

If Wednesday’s penultimate regular season match against VCU was any indication, the Hoosiers may not be too far off from having a chance at accomplishing those goals.

Now, Indiana turns its full attention to Sunday’s regular season finale at Maryland with the Big Ten regular-season title on the line.

As for the IU’s mission heading into College Park, Glass puts it succinctly.

“Dominate… A win is all we want.”

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