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Indiana readies for Ohio State with potential conference crown on the line

Indiana will potentially be playing for hardware on Tuesday night.

It will take some help, from Maryland nonetheless, to clinch the title early on match day seven of conference play, but IU could very well clinch the regular season conference title on Tuesday night.

If IU beats Ohio State on Tuesday and Maryland beats or draws Penn State in Happy Valley, it would mark the first time since 2006-2007 that a Big Ten team repeated as regular season conference champions. 

Before it looks for any help, IU will have to protect home field on senior night to preserve another unbeaten home campaign. 

IU’s opponent, Ohio State, is looking for a first-round bye in the conference tournament, which would mean it avoids the 8/9 play-in game. 

Ohio State has run into a string of tough results after starting the season 5-1. Ohio State is just 1-7-1 since September 17th, the lone win coming on the road at Rutgers.

The Buckeyes are in the second year of a rebuild under the guidance of head coach and former IU assistant coach Brian Maisonneuve.

He’ll be making his first trip back to Bloomington to face IU since leaving to take over the Ohio State program. He helped guide the Hoosiers to the NCAA title in 2012 and the College Cup Final in 2017.

“He’s a very close friend of mine,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “We’ve known each other since we were teenagers. But it’s Ohio State. It’s another game, it’s not about playing an old friend.”

Senior Jack Holland paves the way for the Ohio State attack. His six assists lead the Big Ten conference and his four goals put him among the league’s elite goal scorers.

Sophomore Devyn Etling is fifth in the conference with five goals and second in the league with two game-winning goals. 

Even with the success these two have had, Ohio State has struggled throughout conference play with scoring, netting just three goals in six matches.

The Indiana defense has been stout throughout conference play outside of its resounding loss at the hands of Maryland. The Hoosiers have outscored opponents 8-1 in its last two matches against Rutgers and Evansville. 

“We’re fine tuning now,” Yeagley said. “It’s going to be small amounts of change. If we can get 10 percent better in areas, then we’re going to have a better opportunity to win games.”

Even after the deflating loss to Maryland, IU has seemingly regrouped, not allowing that defeat to have an effect on a successful campaign so far.

IU has gotten back to play fast down the flanks and capitalizing on opportunities in and around the 18-yard box. 

With Ohio State looming Tuesday night, IU has the chance to keep the fast-paced scoring going. Junior forward Thomas Warr broke his scoreless start to the season Tuesday and senior midfielder Joris Ahlinvi broke a rough stretch of play with a goal Friday.

IU has the chance to work in a number of pieces to the rotation as it figures how it will play its lineup come the postseason.

And it also has a chance to once again raise the conference title.

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