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More freshman heroics: Josh Penn saves Indiana against Sacramento State

Following its first loss to Butler, No. 5 Indiana looked to be falling victim to the same struggle it had against the Bulldogs and all season: missed opportunities. But not only did Indiana encounter the same struggle, but it found the usual solution again: a freshman goal.

On Friday, the offense battled all night with Sacramento State. Both offenses were active and steadily applied pressure, but their efforts were countered by stout performances from each keeper. The Hoosiers took 13 shots and had a few great chances, but finally in the 75th minute the Hoosiers got their answer with a goal from freshman Josh Penn.

The freshman knocked in his second goal on the season and his career in a moment that seemed long overdue for the game. The left-footed strike came from the middle of the box off the assist from Maouloune Goumballe and Spencer Glass.

“It was a perfect ball, and easy to finish from there,” Penn said.

Penn’s goal was indicative of how IU’s offense has played out all year.

Indiana tends to put up a number of shots and have great attack but struggles to capitalize on opportunities in the first half. Of Indiana’s total 13 goals scored this season, only two of them have come in the first half of games.

Penn doesn’t believe the first-half struggles to be a lasting or defining trend though.

“I mean I think we’ve just been unlucky,” Penn said. “I don’t think we’re just a second-half team, we’ve been creating the chances, just they haven’t been falling. We’re able to reset at halftime and then come out and find the back of the net.”

Not only did Penn’s goal have underlying meaning in the team’s struggle, but his goal resembled the undeniable importance of this young squad’s freshman class once again.

Arguably the best two chances to score other than Penn’s goal were shots taken by freshmen Herbert Endeley and Aidan Morris. Endeley’s shot in the 57th minute ricocheted off the right post while Morris’ rocket of a shot was just slightly off left, minutes before Penn’s eventual score.

Friday night, five true freshmen saw the field: the usual three starters of Penn, Endeley and Morris got their typical playing time while Goumballe came off the bench along with Brett Bebej, who earned his first minutes of the season. Additionally, freshman Victor Bezerra would’ve made the total six had he not been out due to injury.

The freshman class’ impact is best seen on the offensive end. Just under half of Indiana’s 13 scores this year have all been from freshmen. Penn, Endeley and Bezerra all have found the back of the net twice this season to make six freshmen goals for the year thus far.

Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley was pleased not only with another freshman goal from Penn, but the flexibility scoring-wise that the freshman class can give the team moving forward.

“It’s great getting Josh another goal was huge,” Yeagley said. “We now can really look at these games ahead and go okay, what’s our best option with whatever tactical situation might come to us, that’s a good situation to be in.”

Moving forward, it won’t get any easier for the Hoosiers’ schedule as they head out for a two-game road stand of conference play next week. On Tuesday, Indiana will face Northwestern and next Sunday will feature a Penn State squad who was a few votes away from being ranked in the most recent coaches’ poll.

The Hoosiers will need all hands on deck as they exit the state for the first time this season.

“I think anyone of us could score," Penn said. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a freshman or not."

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