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After Maryland loss, Indiana rediscovers its mojo against Evansville

IU met a strong dose of reality last Friday night in College Park with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Maryland. 

A crippling loss in a match where it was outperformed in every facet isn’t something the Indiana program is accustomed to. The question after the match was how IU would bounce back.

On Tuesday, it bounced back with a swift 5-1 victory over Evansville, the smoothest victory of the 2019 campaign. 

“That was a fun game,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “I enjoyed that. There were fantastic goals, some good lead ups and sequences. I was happy that we were able to share this together.” 

Evansville was far and away the worst team IU has faced this season. With a record of 2-10-1, the Purple Aces have simply struggled to find their footing in the Missouri Valley Conference. 

After Tuesday’s match, Evansville has been shut out in six straight matches and has lost eight consecutive games. 

The discrepancy in opposition allowed Yeagley to deploy a different Starting XI which included freshmen Victor Bezerra and Brett Bebej. Bebej became the seventh different Indiana freshman to feature in the starting lineup this season.

“It was good to see our guys bounce back the way they did and see some other guys get into the game tonight,” redshirt junior Thomas Warr said.

IU wasted no time finding the scoresheet on Tuesday. The match with Maryland was a grueling 90-minute battle where the opposing defense blocked nearly every good look IU had.

IU needed less than a minute to go ahead against Evansville thanks to redshirt junior Spencer Glass.

Glass took a run through the left on the box before firing a shot on net that beat the Evansville keeper to his left. 

Bezerra got back into the scoring column just nine minutes later. A beautifully played ball from freshman Josh Penn found a streaking Bezerra in the box who took a touch and finished through the legs of the keeper to give IU the 2-0 lead. 

“I haven’t felt like we’ve had a game where we were dominant like that,” Bezerra said. “I felt like our conviction we had on the ball, how we were aggressive to go forward, was better today than it has been."

IU would pad the lead before the end of the first 45 minutes with a finish from redshirt junior A.J. Palazzolo to put the Hoosiers up 3-0 at the break.

It was the kind of half that IU badly needed. The Hoosiers play a specifically tailored schedule to help prepare them for the rigors of conference play and the NCAA Tournament. 

Not often this year has IU entered a game it knew it could dominate from start to finish. Sacramento State gave IU a battle and the Big Ten schedule is always brutal.

Outside of a converted penalty kick in the second half from Evansville, IU determined the entire outcome of the night. It was a nice change of pace for an Indiana team that has played so many close matches on the campaign.

Warr added a goal in the second half, his first of the season and one he badly needed. Freshman Trey Kapsalis added another one late in the game for his first career score.

Those goals officially iced the match but also served as a reminder that this was a confidence-boosting match for everyone on IU. 

“A long time coming,” Warr said. “I was scoring in preseason and I was feeling good. I’m still playing with confidence but it was nice to break the seal and finally get one."

This game felt like one of those “get in form” games for IU. It was another in-state opponent, but one that doesn’t bring the same challenge as a Butler or Notre Dame. 

And at least for one night, IU got its mojo back. 

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