On the eve of Indiana football’s home opener, the stage was set for a men’s soccer match for the ages at Bill Armstrong Stadium, just a few blocks east of The Rock: Five-dollar tickets for anyone who showed an Indiana football ticket, IU Dance Marathon in attendance and a raucous student section packed to the gills.
However, the glitz and glamor could not get Indiana over the hump — the No. 10-ranked Hoosiers had a golden chance to pick up a statement win against Washington on Friday night, but came up short and suffered their first home loss since falling 3-0 to Kentucky on Oct. 22, 2022.
The 22nd-ranked Huskies prevailed 1-0 in a match headlined by two feisty squads who exchanged more than their fair share of fouls and yellow cards.
The Huskies’ attack hit the ground running, setting up numerous chances early on, all of which were either thwarted by the flags of assistant referees or Indiana keeper JT Harms. As the first half went on and the teams exchanged fouls, free kicks and turnovers, Indiana’s offense found its rhythm and appeared to shift momentum.
In the 25th minute, Maouloune Goumballe was called offside attempting to break away from Washington’s back line. Indiana intercepted the subsequent free kick, and Collins Oduro attempted a shot from the top of the 18-yard box. The freshman forward’s shot was one of many long-distance shots snuffed out by Washington keeper Sam Fowler.
Despite Indiana taking 14 shots to Washington’s seven, each team registered six shots on goal. The difference-maker was Fowler’s six saves, to Harms’ five. Many of Indiana’s shots were taken so far away from the end line that they were either blocked by Washington defenders, saved by the omnipresent Fowler or sent over the crossbar.
The Hoosiers had a number of tailor-made opportunities on goal, all in the second half. Tommy Mihalic drew a Washington foul in the 47th minute, setting up an Indiana free kick from 25 yards out. Washington blocked Patrick McDonald’s free kick, volleying the ball into the middle where Sam Sarver waited.
Sarver’s second-chance opportunity fizzled out, but Mihalic kept the attack alive. He let a high, arcing shot go off his right foot and Fowler leapt to his right, deflecting the ball off the top of the crossbar and out of danger.
Fowler made another phenomenal save in the 59th minute. Oduro dribbled his way toward the corner, crossing the ball to the back post for Sarver. Pushed against the end line, Sarver punched a header on the ground to a charging Mihalic. Mihalic stuttered for a split-second, allowing Fowler to reposition and make another phenomenal diving save. All Mihalic could do afterwards was put his hands on his head in frustration.
The Hoosiers’ last good attacking chance came in the 71st minute when Karsen Henderlong sent a touch pass onto Oduro’s right foot as the duo approached the 18-yard box. Oduro, who is Indiana’s leading goal scorer this season, dribbled down toward the keeper, drawing Fowler out of his net.
Fowler, whose quick reflexes were on full display all night under the floodlights, kept his composure and saved Oduro’s near-post shot with his midsection. After taking a moment to regather, Fowler got back to his feet and maintained a clean sheet for the remainder of the match.
With their keeper personifying a titanium wall, one goal was all the visitors needed. Mere minutes after Oduro’s close-range shot went for naught, crafty touch passes from Washington drew Indiana’s defense just inches out of position, allowing Charlie Kosakoff to stake a solo claim of the middle part of the field. With Harms all alone, the Washington freshman drew Indiana’s senior netminder off of the end line and drove the ball in for his first career goal.
As the ball entered the goal and gave the Huskies the lead, the once-palpable energy exited Bill Armstrong Stadium. Washington had done it — the home crowd was silent. Tempers flared after Hugo Bacharach picked up the ball prior to a Washington free kick shortly after play resumed, with a verbal altercation between the Indiana defender and Washington’s Richie Aman resulting in yellow cards for both men. Indiana shuffled its offensive attack in a last-ditch effort to equalize, but Washington held on to take the victory and improve its record to 2-1.
“They were disappointed,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said of his players after the loss. “A few guys that had some chances were pretty irate. They knew they did enough to get the result.”
Indiana let numerous free kicks and throw-ins in its attacking half go by the wayside, and Yeagley emphasized these restarts as a focal point moving forward, along with minute physical details that led to long-distance shots missing the mark.
With Seton Hall, another NCAA tournament-quality team, on the docket for Monday night, Indiana will keep its training light, much like it did between Tuesday’s match versus DePaul and Friday night.
The Hoosiers now stand at 1-1-1 this season. The Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic concludes on Monday night, when Indiana faces off against Seton Hall at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the match will be televised on Big Ten Plus.