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<p>Indiana sophomore forward Tommy Mihalic battles with Notre Dame&#x27;s Mo Williams during Indiana&#x27;s 1-0 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 5, 2022. (HN photo/Eden Snower)</p>
Indiana sophomore forward Tommy Mihalic battles with Notre Dame's Mo Williams during Indiana's 1-0 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 5, 2022. (HN photo/Eden Snower)

Early and often: Here’s one thing to keep an eye out for as Indiana enters postseason play

The start of the halves could be vital to Indiana’s chances in the Big Ten tournament

If you’re like me, you still might not have fully recovered from what was an exhilarating Decision Day in the Big Ten on Sunday.

But, hopefully you do by Friday evening, when the Big Ten Tournament begins in men’s soccer. No. 4 Indiana hosts No. 5 Penn State at Bill Armstrong Stadium at 7 p.m., and the other three quarterfinals will be kicking off at the same time. All four can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.

Yes, I’m waiting for your complaints about having to pay to watch postseason soccer. But, there’s no better time of the year to buy the package, considering a few non-conference games are televised there on both the men’s and women’s side.

Indiana went 8-3-6 overall, and 3-1-4 in conference play, falling just a few minutes short of earning a share of a Big Ten regular season title. Instead, the road to a 16th Big Ten Championship will be a bit steeper, as the Hoosiers might have to beat both Penn State and No. 1 Maryland just to get to the championship game. That’s where Indiana got last season before losing to the Nittany Lions 3-0. Indiana beat Penn State 4-2 in the lone regular season meeting this season, played in Bloomington.

In the 17 games this season, Indiana scored 32 times and conceded 23 times, meaning there have been 55 goals in the 1,530 minutes the Hoosiers have played thus far.

Of those 55 total goals, 20 of them have come within the first 10 minutes of either half. For you math nerds, 36% of the goals scored in matches the Hoosiers have played have come in a 20-minute block, just 22% of the 90 total minutes, now that overtime doesn’t exist anymore in the regular season.

Indiana has scored 70% of those 20 goals scored in the first stretch of both halves, 14 to be exact, eight in the second half and six in the first half.

That’s a lot of numbers I just threw at you. For those of you visual learners, I created a graph so you don’t get a headache ⬇️

In the 17 matches Indiana has played, 10 of them (59%) saw goals scored in the first 10 minutes of either half. Meaning that an exact average of two goals have been scored in that 20-minute stretch.

Believe it or not, all 10 matches saw Indiana score during that span, exemplifying how strong they have been coming out of the gate this season. The opponents scored in six of them as well, as Indiana has at times conceded immediately after scoring.

But, you’ll also have the rare match when Indiana concedes first and then pours three goals into the back of the other net, all in a five-minute stretch. Yup, that happened this season against Northwestern late in September. After a scoreless first 45 minutes, the ‘Cats got on the board 133 seconds into the second half. But, in the next 228 seconds, Quinten Helmer, Herbert Endeley and Karsen Henderlong all scored for the Cream and Crimson, capping off the craziest five minutes of soccer maybe ever in the history of the sport. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.

The other nine games weren’t that crazy, that I can assure you. For reference, in the regular season match between Indiana and Penn State, the Hoosiers scored four minutes and 47 seconds into the match, courtesy of a Joey Maher goal which may or may not have hit his hand on the way into the net. The hosts of that match also scored within the first three minutes of the second half, as a penalty won by Sam Sarver led to a goal by Ryan Wittenbrink from the spot to make the score 3-1 at that point.

In conclusion, you won’t want to miss any of the action from the first minute to last. Whether that’s setting your timers for 15 minutes after the halftime whistle, going to the bathroom before kickoff, or having a screen on at the dinner table, you won’t want to miss the start of the Big Ten Tournament as Indiana vies for not only Big Ten Title No. 16, but a top-16 seed in the NCAA Tournament as well.

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