On a beautiful Tuesday evening at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, the No. 10 Indiana Men’s soccer team hosted its first regular season home game –an out-of-conference affair against DePaul. The Hoosiers dominated possession and were constantly threatening in the final third, with a barrage of 31 shots compared to DePaul’s one lone shot, but it was two second half goals along with a stellar all-around performance that boosted the Hoosiers to a 2-0 victory.
It felt like it was a matter of when and not if the Hoosiers would score up until the 66th minute, when freshman Collins Oduro finally broke through for the Hoosiers with a header into the bottom left corner of the net, off of a quality cross into the box from Sam Sarver. Just 10 minutes later, the Dutchman Quinten Helmer, making it look easy, curled a stunning left footed shot from about 20 yards out into the upper left corner, assisted by Karsen Henderlong, to provide the Hoosiers with some comfort down the stretch.
Here are my three takeaways from Tuesday’s victory, where Indiana improved to 32-10-9 all-time in home openers at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
The Hoosier attack can take this team to the next level
The Hoosiers kept a consistent offensive presence all match, with an eye-opening 31 total shots – with nine being on target – to go along with 10 total corner kicks. The Hoosier attack kept DePaul goalkeeper, Gandhi Cruz, on his toes all night, forcing him to make seven saves. Guys such as Tommy Mihalic, Sam Sarver and Alex Barger, along with the goalscorers Oduro and Helmer, provided great forward energy, putting themselves in favorable situations all night, opening up a lot of opportunities for each other.
“I think we have one of the best attacks in the country when we really get going,” Sarver said after the game. “We put up 31 shots and obviously the end product probably wasn’t what we wanted it to be…but it’s kind of an eye opener if you’re still winning games that convincingly.”
With his 76th-minute strike, Helmer opened up his goal tally for the 2023 season, which was his third career goal for the Hoosiers.
“For me it’s trying to trust what I'm good at,” said Helmer postgame, after I asked him what his mentality is like coming off the bench into a close game down the stretch . “I like to create and have a finish like I did, so it’s mostly exciting to go out there, be disciplined, be locked in and listen to coaches. But the most important thing is to have fun. I think that’s when you play best.”
Indiana looked menacing in a strong performance offensively in a match that could’ve seen IU score four, five or even six goals, and the team will hope to carry that momentum over into the weekend.
Oduro and Sarver continue to build chemistry
Oduro had a number of chances throughout the game, but found the breakthrough in the 66th minute, tallying his second goal in as many games – a diving header into the bottom left corner of the net – off of a quality cross into the box from Sarver, who had a fantastic game himself. Both of Oduro’s goals to start the season have been assisted by Sarver, who spoke about the duo's growing chemistry.
“I love that kid. I told him before the game as a joke that I would give him another assist and he was going to finish it,” Sarver said postgame. “I think we’ll have a really good strike partnership…a key is to be unselfish throughout the season because the more unselfish we are as a team, the more we’re going to score, so I'm really excited for him [Oduro].”
Sarver earned his 10th career assist and now has 32 career points via 21 goal contributions in two seasons and change as a member of the Hoosiers.
Bacharach shines again as the Hoosiers look strong at the back
In what was likely the Hoosiers best chance in a scoreless first half, senior CB Hugo Bacharach played a gorgeous diagonal ball towards the left flank, showcasing his ridiculous range of vision and passion, where freshman Clay Murador collected it nicely and flew down the wing. His cross into the box fell to sophomore Luka Bezerra, but his close-range effort was blocked by a diving defender.
Bacharach, the 22nd ranked player in the country according to topdrawersoccer.com, showed why, putting in a composed shift all match alongside his center back partner and captain, Joey Maher. The duo looked impressive and secured its first regular-season shutout as a center back partnership, as Indiana extended a streak of home shutouts to four games dating back to last season.
“The partnership between those two is quickly forming,” head coach Todd Yeagley said postgame, as he also had some high praise for his new center back. “Hugo’s got some special skill sets. You saw his sophistication…he’s a very rare player for his size to have the agility he has on the ball, that’s why he’ll really translate to the next level.”
Indiana will begin to prepare for a big weekend ahead, as IU will welcome the No. 22 Washington Huskies to Bloomington in a highly anticipated early season ranked matchup. The Hoosiers will host the Huskies at 8 p.m. Friday night at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network .