On a windy and oddly warm Nov. 8 evening the Indiana men’s soccer team was staring at the face of a red-hot Michigan Wolverines team with a trip to the Big Ten Championship game on the line. In one of the most electrifying games of the season the Hoosiers advanced in a 4-3 thriller.
The Bacharach switch saved the season
This could be an exaggeration as there really is no telling what the rest of the season would have looked like if there were no changes, but when the transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson was moved into the center mid role, there was a drastic change in the offensive production from the Hoosiers.
Ever since the Spain native began starting alongside Patrick McDonald in the midfield on Oct. 7 vs Penn State, there was almost an instant change in how the offense performed.
In the nine matches that Bacharach has been put in center mid, the Hoosiers have scored multiple goals in all but one, which was their 1-0 loss to Northwestern.
In regards to the 4-3 win over Michigan, Bacharach was everywhere on the offensive side of the ball and made major contributions in the match.
After the Wolverines had quickly tied things up at 1-1 in the 22nd minute there was some stagnant play up until the 36th minute when the Hoosiers had a free kick on the right side of the attacking third.
A low ball was played in and deflected right around the penalty spot where Bacharach was able to take the ball quickly and move to his left foot while delivering a perfect strike to the bottom left corner to retake the lead for Indiana.
“He’s just a very naturally smart player…he picks up on things fast,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said of Bacharach adjusting to the new position.
Bacharach continued his stellar night with another highlight play where he assisted Maouloune Goumballe on the final goal of the match to give Indiana the 4-3 lead with seven minutes remaining. The assist was a rocket that freshman keeper Isaiah Goldson was unable to possess as Goumballe ran on to put away the game-winning goal.
Overall there has been a strong offensive push from many of the Hoosiers in their run through October and into November, but the consistent play of Bacharach in his new home has brought a positive boost to the production that Indiana sees.
“There’s still a lot for him to grow…which is the exciting part…we’re not capped yet,” Yeagley said.
Maouloune Goumballe has found his form
For what seemed like the entire season, the fifth-year senior was quiet, from his voice to his play on the field — in a season where attacking production was desperately needed.
Flash forward to the past four matches, and Goumballe has tallied four goals and one assist as he found his way back into the starting role. Goumballe had spent a large amount of the October win streak coming off the bench and it wasn’t until the match against Trine where he was back with the starting 11.
Goumballe made a strong impact in that match with his first goal of the season against the Division III opponent, however it may have been the turning point to the recent success he has found.
“I think the goal helped him…when you’re a confident striker, that’s another level,” Yeagley said.
The Cincinnati native put together a two-goal masterclass as he bookended the scoring eruption that the Hoosiers had as the first goal was a low strike similar to Bacharach’s in the first half and the second being the game-winner that was mentioned earlier.
“I’ve never scored two goals in a game so I’m happy,” Goumballe said after the breakout performance.
There has been no secret of the talent that Goumballe possesses as he has had time at striker, wing and even right back against Kentucky this season. However, the ability to hold a home at striker and be dominant has shown new phases for the Hoosiers in recent play.
“He started to find his form around this time last year and was a huge reason for our run to the College Cup,” Yeagley said.
With Goumballe’s success and Bacharach’s emergence in the midfield there has been new life in the Hoosiers offense.
“We have the best offense in the nation,” junior winger Sam Sarver said after Indiana defeated Depaul 2-0 on Aug. 29, well before the current state of the team came to be.
Are there potential defensive concerns?
With all of the positive outlook from the offense in the recent play for Indiana, it has drastically overshadowed the backline, which for the majority of the season was pitching shutouts left and right. In the past few matches, however, there have started to be more growing pains than expected from the experienced core.
To the defense (no pun intended) of the backline, there have only been two matches this season where teams have scored multiple goals with the first being the 2-1 defeat to Michigan State. With that being said, allowing three goals in a match has to raise some sort of eyebrow even barring the 4-3 victory.
“In the midfield I don’t think our guys tracked well…and obviously that needs to be addressed,” Yeagley said.
The best example of the tracking comes from the Wolverines’ first goal which was a lightning-fast attack that junior Jason Bucknor had just 67 seconds after the Hoosiers opened up the scoring play.
The Wolverines’ second goal came off a penalty kick that needed an almost three-minute review to figure out where the spot of the foul was.
Michigan’s final goal of the game was a brilliant flick header by Riley Ferch to retie the match at 3-3 with only 18 minutes remaining.
“I don’t think we defended poorly,” Yeagley said. “The boxscore can be misleading when you concede three goals…we did make some interesting decisions however and have to address that.”
For a defense that had only allowed 12 goals in the first 18 matches, there were definitely miscues here and there that led to the most goals being scored on JT Harms in any match this season.
What was probably the most entertaining game of the season brought some epic moments with Bucknor receiving two yellow cards and being sent from the game, Goumballe’s explosion of goals and the exciting crowd that the Hoosier Army brought.
Overall the excitement saw some good moments in which the offense was able to produce, whether it was powerful shots from Goumballe and Bacharach, or the sniffer goal that Tommy Miahlic was able to get at the end of the first half.
The team goal remains the same, as looking one game ahead has been talked about ever since the postseason started. That next one is the Big Ten Championship (Indiana's seventh in a row) against Penn State at noon on Sunday.