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Freshman forward Clay Murador tries to get past a Michigan defender during Indiana's draw with the Wolverines on Sept. 26, 2023. (HN photo/Nicholas McCarry)
Freshman forward Clay Murador tries to get past a Michigan defender during Indiana's draw with the Wolverines on Sept. 26, 2023. (HN photo/Nicholas McCarry)

'That looked like the first half of the season': Indiana falls to Northwestern despite outshooting Wildcats 21-4

The 1-0 loss puts the Hoosiers in a difficult position in the Big Ten title race

EVANSTON – By the time you finish reading this there is a good chance that Northwestern blocked one of Indiana’s shot attempts. 

A windy Tuesday night in Evanston, Illinois saw the Indiana men’s soccer team facing off against the Northwestern Wildcats in a crucial match for the final week of the Big Ten standings where the Wildcats got the better of the Hoosiers, 1-0, to retake their first place position in the conference. 

Coming into the match the Hoosiers controlled their own destiny that if they were to win against Northwestern and their final Big Ten match against Rutgers, they would be the outright winners of the regular season. With the loss, Indiana will need loads of help for a first-place finish and could potentially be on the road in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. 

“We had control coming into tonight and now we don’t…that’s a tough pill to swallow because I felt good coming into tonight,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said. 

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the story of the match was with shots and especially the shots being blocked by the Northwestern backline. Of the 21 shots that Indiana had, only three were on frame, all in the first half. 

“That looked like the first half of the season…there were way too many good opportunities not to get one today,” Yeagley said. 

In the eighth minute of play junior forward Sam Sarver got the shot taking off to a start where he tried to slot one in from the left corner of the box that was deflected and sent out for a pending corner kick. 

Just three minutes later, fifth-year forward Karsen Henderlong tried to continue his recent string of success where he was in a cluster at the top of the box and fired two shots. The first was deflected and the follow up was a low and weak dribbler to the hands of Northwestern keeper Jackson Weyman. 

That seemed to be the overall trend of the game as of the 21 total shots that were logged, 15 were deflected by a Northwestern defender with almost all of the blocks going out of harm's way.

“They were making extra plays, and that’s good work by them,” Yeagley said. 

Indiana, which is now 7-4-4 (3-2-2 B1G), has now outshot opponents in six games that have resulted in a win or a draw this season. In three of those matches the Hoosiers have had 10 or more attempts more than their opponent.

As for the Wildcats their offense was few and far between with only four total shots on the evening that included a single shot in the last 10 minutes of the game. 

Ultimately the drastic difference did not affect the outcome due to the fact that in the 25th minute of action, Reese Mayer took a long throw-in deep in the attacking third that found the head of Nigel Prince who flicked it back at the corner of the six to the opposite post in the lone score of the match. 

With wind gusts of up to 12 miles per hour, there were some effects in which the ball moved throughout the match, but it was not enough to warrant an excuse. 

“It is harder to adjust, but it’s not the reason we didn’t win the game tonight…Honestly we did enough to win,” Yeagley said.

One of the few bright spots from the loss came from freshman winger Clay Murador who returned from a lower leg injury he suffered during the Ohio State match.

“It was nice to have him back…we thought he could give us a scoring threat coming down the left…he’s got plenty of speed,” Yeagley said. 

The Indiana team that had been dominating the month of October seemed, like Yeagley mentioned, like the team that limped through September with all the draws and almost the inability to score. 

The position the Hoosiers had themselves in heading into the match was fully in the driver's seat as a red-hot, four-game win streak team that had scored eight goals during that stretch. The aftermath is now a team that is going to have to put up a tremendous fight to not only host a Big Ten Tournament match, but to make the NCAA Tournament at that. 

With the Trine match on Friday and the Big Ten finale against Rutgers on Sunday, the Hoosiers will almost certainly have to get back into the form they were in just a week ago to try and make a push into the Big Dance. 

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