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Sam Sarver leaps during Indiana's 1-0 win over Seton Hall on Sept. 4, 2023. Sarver scored the game-winning goal. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)
Sam Sarver leaps during Indiana's 1-0 win over Seton Hall on Sept. 4, 2023. Sarver scored the game-winning goal. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

Indiana men’s soccer hands Seton Hall first loss of season behind Sarver’s goal

Indiana controlled possession for most of the match, constantly pressuring Seton Hall’s defense

No. 10 Indiana men’s soccer closed the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic on Monday night, defeating Seton Hall 1-0 in a match that featured bookings galore — a travel agency’s best friend. In total, five different players were issued yellow cards, with Seton Hall’s Tomas Nunez being handed his team’s first red card of the season in the 79th minute.

Sam Sarver notched the lone goal of the contest in the 63rd minute, finding the back of the net after well-placed passes from Alex Barger and Maouloune Goumballe. Sarver dribbled toward the near post and beat Seton Hall keeper Mats Roorda to the opposite side of the net, the ball dribbling in and tipping the scales firmly in the Hoosiers’ favor.

After scoring his first goal of the season on Monday, Sarver is tied with Collins Oduro for the team lead in points, with four. Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley cited Sarver’s disciplined decision making. Sarver has improved with age, and Yeagley said this year’s iteration of Sarver brings other players into his offensive attack, such as Brett Bebej.

Yeagley also noted Sarver’s larger defensive presence, saying it is a large part of why Sarver has seen so much playing time.

“If he wants to be on the field, like we all do, then he has to be a trusted defender,” Yeagley said. “He’s doing that. (We’re seeing) great growth from Sam.”

Goumballe picked up an assist on Sarver’s goal, and Yeagley said that although he may not compile stats in the way Sarver and Oduro will, Goumballe is a cornerstone of Indiana’s attack.

“Through our run last year, Maouloune was one of our most effective players,” Yeagley said. “He didn’t have great goals or assists, but he’s so effective. Tonight, he got the assist with Sam. I really like what Maouloune is doing. He’ll get a goal or two when we need it, but he saves those for big moments.”

Karsen Henderlong approaches the ball during Indiana's 1-0 win over Seton Hall on Sept. 4, 2023. (HN photo/Nicholas McCarry)

Goumballe said after the game that his pass to Sarver was the product of a play that the two work on routinely in practice. Sarver echoed this sentiment.

“As soon as the ball came to Maouloune, I knew he saw me — it’s a play we work on every day in training. We were moving until we saw that opportunity, and luckily we got it and took it,” Sarver said.

In celebration of his first goal of 2023, Sarver lept towards the Hoosier fans standing just beyond the far sideline, balancing on the barrier that separates the fans from the field.

“I’m just a man of the people,” Sarver said of his celebration. “I always want to run to the fans. I love when they come out, they’re phenomenal.

“(The fans) were phenomenal against Washington, and I hate letting them down. That’s why, when I score, I run to them — to show that I appreciate them. They take time out of their day to watch us play, so the least we can do is perform.”

With its win on Monday, Indiana has gone 150 regular season matches without back-to-back losses — a streak that dates back to Nov. 1, 2013. The Hoosiers fell to No. 22 Washington 1-0 on Friday night, but found themselves on the winning side of that same scoreline to finish the Labor Day weekend homestand.

Although Indiana exited Monday’s match with a win, Yeagley said his squad must improve on restarts. Indiana was 0-for-7 on corner kicks on Monday, and through four games, they have yet to score on 24 opportunities from the corner.

“Our service has to be better,” Yeagley said after Monday’s game.

Yeagley said, in game situations, players tabbed with taking corner kicks have been inaccurate. Junior Tommy Mihalic has been inconsistent from one side, while freshman Alex Barger’s fit as a service fixture is still being evaluated. Yeagley added that Bebej is accurate on services into the 18-yard box, but his presence is more needed as a goal-scorer.

Indiana finishes its pre-Big Ten slate with a trip to The Sunshine State. On Friday, the Hoosiers face off against South Florida at Corbett Stadium in Tampa. Yeagley said that although the Bulls are 0-3-0, they are a talented team whose record is deceiving.

“We’ll play (other) teams who play like South Florida,” Yeagley said. He noted that the Bulls’ style of play is different and presents a new challenge for Indiana. “They’re a very talented team,” he added.

Indiana heads to Tampa with a 2-1-1 record. The Hoosiers face off against USF at 7 p.m. on Friday night. The match will be streamed on ESPN+.

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