Indiana made history against Penn State, earning its 800th program win. It desperately needed 801 to come in the next game against Wisconsin.
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Indiana forward Tommy Mihalic joins Jack Edwards and Audrey Hausberger on episode three of the Q49 Podcast to discuss the start to the IU men's soccer season, his time in Croatia during the 2018 World Cup run, and his future goals as a soccer player. Full episode available below!
A new-look Indiana squad hit the pitch at Bill Armstrong Stadium for the first time in 2022 on Saturday afternoon, comfortably dispatching Lipscomb 3-1. The win was Indiana’s first in regulation in the spring, after drawing 2-2 with Butler, drawing 2-2 with Saint Louis (winning 4-2 on penalties), and losing 2-0 to Kentucky in the prior three spring matches. New formations, faces and roles defined the match, making it an interesting launching point for Todd Yeagley and company as Indiana gets closer to the fall. Here are the takeaways from Saturday’s encounter: Two transfers seek to fill the boots of Victor Bezerra and Roman Celentano Indiana’s offseason saw numerous departures to the professional level, with some going to the USL and MLS Next Pro, including experienced captains Spencer Glass and Joe Schmidt. Arguably Indiana’s two best players of 2021, Roman Celentano and Victor Bezerra have already made headway to the highest level of American soccer in the MLS. Indiana’s two transfers who were featured in the match were direct replacements for Celentano and Bezerra. JT Harms, a Duke transfer, started the match in goal, while Xavier transfer Karsen Henderlong started the match on the bench, but donned Bezerra’s number ‘7’ on his back. Harms was called into action to make numerous saves throughout the match, including an impressive double save in the first half when the match was still 0-0. His distribution with his hands was impressive, and he was error-free when passing it out with his feet. Filling in for the only goalkeeper in Big Ten history to win Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year twice will always prove difficult, but Harms proved dependable. After the match, Yeagley praised Harms’ play, and emphasized the importance of the minutes he played for his confidence and rhythm. He also noted that Bryant Pratt, the starter of the previous spring matches, will be out with injury for the next six weeks after an injury sustained against Saint Louis. Where the No. 1 kit falls next season will be a battle all summer. On the other end of the pitch, Henderlong had a solid performance, constantly using his 6-foot-2 frame to hold off defenders, and linked up well with his fellow forwards, notably Herbert Endeley in the first half. Solid Lipscomb defending held him away from getting a solid chance at goal, and he had to make his own luck. In the final five minutes, a poor back pass by Lipscomb opened up an opportunity. Alex Brown, the goalkeeper for the Bison, was forced to stretch for his clearance, and couldn’t get the ball past Henderlong, who blocked the ball into the net. https://twitter.com/ta_lao19/status/1515454865610354690 He didn’t register a shot on target, but got his first goal at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Henderlong is still finding himself and his role in Indiana’s team, and his performance Saturday will help fast track that development. New year, new formation Before the match, one of my fellow beat reporters Ta Lao mentioned that he heard that IU was playing a 5-2-3 formation. Knowing Indiana and Yeagley’s trust in the 4-2-4 formation they played much of 2021, I was doubtful of my friend’s scoop. I was proved wrong, however, as Indiana lined up with three center backs, two wing backs, two central midfielders, and three forwards spearheading the attack. Call it a 3-4-3 or 5-2-3, but the general shape of Indiana was radically different than it was in the fall. Patrick McDonald (a midfielder) and Maouloune Goumballe (a forward/midfielder) lined up as the wing backs, giving them the freedom to move box to box in the wide channels. The formation offered great freedom to Tommy Mihalic and Endeley as wide forwards, able to receive and dribble with more space due to Indiana’s increased width with the wing backs. There was constant communication between the wide forward and the wing back on both sides to ensure that Indiana always had a player capable of receiving a switch of play. The second goal for Indiana was an excellent example of this. Daniel Munie received the ball unpressed in the center of defense, and sprayed a pass out to the left for Ryan Wittenbrink. He then was isolated one on one with the defender due to the width of Indiana’s attack. He drove at the defender’s left, and lobbed a cross toward Nate Ward for a header. https://twitter.com/ta_lao19/status/1515453471893372931 Yeagley after the match was hesitant to commit to the formation long term, but positive signs were there to see. Versatility is the new theme for Indiana Building off the formation and its difference from the fall, Indiana showcased just how versatile it is in terms of personnel, roles they can play, as well as attributes available to utilize. Indiana’s center backs on the day included Munie, Joey Maher, Nyk Sessock, Lawson Redmon and Brett Bebej. That group includes players who regularly operate as full backs (Sessock, Redmon, and Bebej) as well as Munie, an athletic and rangey center back, capable of driving the ball forward. At wing back, IU played Wittenbrink, Goumballe, McDonald and Lukas Hummel, all players with different styles and strengths. In the midfield, Ben Yeagley held things down, increasing his stake as the potential starting central midfielder when fall comes back around. The Hoosiers were capable of moving away from their comfortable formation because they have players who can play numerous positions, with different styles and points of emphasis. After the match, Yeagley mentioned that he played the formation and the players with the incoming freshmen (including a four star midfielder already signed to a MLS Next Pro side and Victor Bezerra’s younger brother Luka) and transfer defender Jansen Miller in mind. https://twitter.com/jackcedwards/status/1508497434405740546 The side IU played on Saturday will look very different in the fall, but the building blocks are in place for an interesting and competitive side down the road. Final thoughts Indiana getting a first win in regulation in the spring in front of home fans will be a boost, especially after the early season struggles at home back in the fall. Nothing unbelievable needed to happen Saturday, but it was effective, controlled, and a reason for optimism. The focus of Indiana turns to next Friday’s scrimmage, the last of the spring, against Notre Dame. The focus of the stadium turns to the Little 500, with the 34th running of the women’s Little 500 and the 71st running of the men’s Little 500 in under a week. Yeagley said that he likely won’t be able to attend either race however. He’ll be out recruiting.
With just seven scholarship players, and no outright point guard, Indiana traveled to Illinois to take on Northwestern, falling 59-51. Here are some quick-fire takeaways from what happened on the court, and what happened off it before the players even put on the candy stripes. Suspensions derail Indiana's depth Before the game, IU Athletics announced that Tamar Bates, Xavier Johnson, Khristian Lander, Parker Stewart, and Michael Durr would not play against Northwestern due to "disciplinary reasons." Further clarification on what caused their absence and how long it will continue is still to come, but disappointment ripped through the Indiana fanbase before the game over the mass-absence in one of the most winnable matchups down the stretch. https://twitter.com/HoosiersLive/status/1491217561706725378 The five suspended players sat court-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, but were unable to leave make the step onto the court to help Indiana. More reporting will come when more is known, but the ripple effect of the suspensions played a huge role in Indiana's gameplan against the Wildcats. It's difficult to play with seven players For the second time this season, Anthony Leal broke the starting five, replacing Stewart, and Trey Galloway operating in place of Xavier Johnson at point guard. Leal and Galloway provided the defensive energy required, helping Indiana to a good defensive first half, limiting Northwestern to 30.6 percent shooting from the field, and just 1-for-13 from 3. Indiana failed to consistently bring down missed shots, allowing a stunning 13 offensive rebounds, playing a large role in Northwestern's surge in the second half. Ultimately on the day, inexperience coupled with a lack of other options cost Indiana. Galloway's time at the point was hot and cold, with a team-high nine points and four turnovers in place of the three missing guards in the first half. Head coach Mike Woodson would be wise to observe his assertiveness and ability to take over as reason to alter the long-term starting five. With just seven scholarship players available, Nathan Childress got minutes for the first time since Nov. 23 against Jackson State due to Jordan Geronimo's foul trouble in the first half. When Durr might be otherwise be brought in to rotate Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis, they were forced to play through tough spells, leading to low efficiency from the frontcourt duo. Leal was dependable, but given more than 30 minutes, his contributions were forced to exceed his experience and talent level. After getting a flagrant one for a hook and hold, Trey Galloway didn't leave the game, as Indiana had no other options to handle the ball. One might wonder how different the game would look if Indiana had a full selection to draw from. A return home didn't bring Kopp back Miller Kopp's struggles to consistently integrate into Indiana's offense have been well documented. After transferring from Northwestern, Kopp has averaged 6.2 points and 2.4 rebounds a contest, and shooting 38.7 percent from 3, good for second among IU's starters. However, reminders for Kopp and others may have cropped up, seeing the purple court he used to defend, that last season for the Wildcats he averaged 11 points a contest. He got looks, but failed to click at a consistent rate, shooting 1-7 from the field, and tallying just 3 points. Kopp's long-term role with the team should be investigated post-return from suspension for Indiana's quintet, and when IU needed to turn to him, he was unable to step in and hit shots required to keep exact vengeance in his return home. Trayce Jackson-Davis needed to take over -- and didn't Jackson-Davis was needed more than ever as Indiana lost two starters. Usually efficient, the junior mirrored his team's shooting display, falling much lower than his season average of 59.1 percent shooting with a 4-13 shooting display accompanying 13 points. Jackson-Davis wasn't the cause of the defeat, but he failed to be the reason for a victory. Often called one of the best players in the nation (for good reason), there may be potential regret when looking back on this game. Northwestern was beatable, but Jackson-Davis and Indiana couldn't put their shots down, or live up to the billing. Indiana needed this win A late-night trip to Northwestern likely wouldn't rank high in the preseason assessment of potential season-defining results, but as the season played out, it has turned out to be. Off the back of a thumping home loss to Illinois that asserted the Hoosiers are fallible at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers were facing a schedule that saw them play three Big Ten teams ahead of them in the standings after the Northwestern matchup. Under Woodson, Indiana has dared to look upwards, and dream higher. Falling to Northwestern causes the Hoosiers to instead turn nervously over their shoulder, with the sixth position and above-500 record in the Big Ten in peril. Trey Galloway should be a starter This is the last, and maybe most important takeaway. Whether for Kopp or Stewart, his role in keeping Indiana alive against Northwestern against all odds, and his consistent energy needs to be rewarded with a starting role. Indiana will hope to get back a good chunk of its squad back as the team turns the corner into the final stretch of the season, starting with a trip to East Lansing on Saturday to face Michigan State.
We are officially at the halfway point of the Indiana basketball season. Fifteen games are down, and 15 are on the horizon as Mike Woodson continues his first season back at his alma mater. IU stands at 12-3, with a 3-2 record in the Big Ten, and a respectable 23rd position in the KenPom rankings as of Jan. 11. We have a decent sample size now to assess what we’ve seen from Indiana on the basketball court, and on the stat sheet. Let’s look at some takeaways from the first half of the season, and what it means as we tip towards the back end of the schedule. Overall Takeaways This is written before I take a deep dive into the stats, and is purely based on what I’ve seen with my eyes. The overall takeaways for me are largely positive. Considering what was predicted before the season, 12-3 is a good record, and it is even better if you are of the opinion that Indiana is the only reason the Hoosiers aren’t unbeaten (spoiler: I am). The first loss against Syracuse featured a staggering 26 turnovers, and to put up 110 points in the double-overtime loss in spite of that was staggering as well. The second loss to Wisconsin featured an all-time capitulation down the stretch, with Indiana losing its composure and falling late after leading by over 20 at one point. The third loss was a case of Indiana failing to show up on the road against a mediocre Penn State team. This may be a stretch to say this is Indiana beating itself, as Penn State did well to hit its shots and mitigate what the Hoosiers are good at. Overall, progress has been apparent since day one from where it was left under Archie Miller, and it has continued into the halfway point. Rob Phinisee’s improvement over the season has coincided with Indiana cleaning up the turnovers, Race Thompson has continued his evolution into an all-around forward, and Indiana finds itself with one of the best defensive units in the country. Now, these are all opinions. Let’s look at some stats, and some cold-hard facts. The Four Quadrants of the Big Ten Indiana finds itself in an interesting spot through 15 games. KenPom rates IU's adjusted defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 90.4, good for 11th in the country as of Jan. 11. Offensively, the story is different. An adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 109.3 is just 70th in the country, letting the Hoosiers down in a few games, and keeping them from the top end of the rankings and the Big Ten. Here is how Big Ten teams compare to one another in terms of their efficiencies on both ends of the court: Indiana sits in the bottom left quadrant of the chart, with the best defense in the Big Ten, but a distinctly average offense. If Indiana can push its offensive performances up ever so slightly, IU can push its numbers closer to those of Michigan State (10th in the latest AP Poll) Wisconsin (13th) or Illinois (25th). At the moment, Indiana finds itself in an interesting position, with a great defense to fall back on, but lackluster offense holding the team back. Side note before takeaway two: Iowa is the polar opposite of Indiana. That should make for fun viewing on Thursday’s contest. Read more on that here, from our very own Zion Brown. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Co. Breaking news: the stats say that Trayce Jackson-Davis is good at the sport. Jackson-Davis is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (19.4 PPG), fifth in rebounding (8.7 RPG), third in blocking (3.0 BPG), and 10th in shooting (60 percent). This graph may not stun anybody, but it is representative of Jackson-Davis' dominance. Only one time has the starting lineup combination been broken (Parker Stewart didn’t start against Northern Kentucky), yet there have been some very low point performances. Stewart and Miller Kopp especially have had some very lackluster performances, highlighting their hot and cold nature. The ninth game was against Wisconsin, which held Jackson-Davis to a season-low nine points. Indiana had a good defensive display, holding the Badgers to 64 points, yet lost the game because Indiana’s key piece was nullified. Let’s narrow it down to one player in particular: Miller Kopp. What happened to Kopp? Miller Kopp had a season-high 28 points against Syracuse. He came close to carrying Indiana to victory at the Carrier Dome, and even in defeat, it felt like his breakout moment in an IU jersey. He followed the season-high with a season-low zero points against Nebraska in 24 minutes of play. Here are his points per game over the 15 games this season: The graph above shows two stories on opposite sides of the Syracuse performance. Let’s break the numbers down in better depth. Minutes/Game Points/Game FGA/Game Field Goal% Pre-Syracuse 23 7.2 6 36% Post-Syracuse 24.8 4.4 5.1 34% His minutes have gone up, but the underlying numbers have gotten worse. Not pretty viewing for Woodson from one of the starters. Kopp is clearly going through a slump. Very understandable, considering players are humans, and he is still in his first season under a new head coach. We’ve seen players come in and out of importance during the season, and there is no reason a starter is immune to that. Is Kopp a bad player? Not in the slightest, we’ve seen his talent during his 28-point, four-rebound, three-assist, and two-steal performance against Syracuse, on 9-for-16 shooting. Should he be a guaranteed starter? That’s a different discussion entirely. The optimistic takeaway from Kopp struggling is that in the eight games since Syracuse, Indiana is 6-2 even with a below-average starter. If Kopp can return to that average, or even surpass it, Indiana becomes a better team for it. Indiana needs its offense to be just average to win games What has been the team's worst offensive performance this season? Looking at the simple field-goal percentage, the five worst field-goal percentages in individual games are as follows: @ Wisconsin, 38.71%, 59-64 loss @ Penn State, 39.7%, 58-61 loss vs. Nebraska, 40.4%, 68-55 win vs. Ohio State, 41.0%, 67-51 win vs. Eastern Michigan, 41.9%, 68-62 win Four of the five Big Ten games and the season opener. It is not revolutionary thinking to say that odds of winning are reduced with inferior shooting, but Indiana managed to win three of these games, and had narrow losses on the road to Big Ten teams in the two sub-40 percent games. When contrasted with what IU allowed for its opponents, Indiana’s below-average offense is rarely worse than the numbers its opponents put up: There was just one game where an opponent had a better field-goal percentage than Indiana: the ninth game of the year, against Penn State on Jan. 2, and it was under a 2 percent difference. The Hoosiers can rely on their defense to keep them in games, even when their offense isn’t at the standard. When Indiana surpass its average shooting percentage of 47.8 percent, the team is 6-1, with the lone defeat the turnover-filled Syracuse trip. This is a two-part takeaway: Indiana’s offense has been just enough, and its defense has been great. If the offense can make improvements, this team is going to be hard to beat. The entire point guard group This section found itself getting too big and too complicated to be one part of five in an article. Needless to say, Indiana’s point guard room has been a subject of much discussion this season. William McDermott wrote about the debate earlier this season, and not much certainty has changed since. Xavier Johnson is the clear starter, while Phinisee has been the clear sixth man. Khristian Lander’s role has been impossible to define, with many zero-minute games populating his stat sheet. A sore leg kept him out of the Minnesota game, but it’s clear that Woodson doesn’t have full faith in his role in running the offense. Indiana needs both Johnson and Phinisee operating with high availability, considering the hot and cold play of both guards, Woodson can hang his hat on trying to time their appearances right to capitalize on the entire strengths of his guard group. Competition for that spot can breed success, and this takeaway is mainly that the group is still both undefined and not fully tapped into. Overall takeaways Indiana is a good basketball team with an average offense. The potential of the team is high, with the defense still having room to grow beyond its current top-10 standards, and an offense with much room to grow whether that be current starters, or players ready to make a step into more minutes. The last half of the season will pose many challenges for Woodson and his squad. Can they keep up with the Big Ten gauntlet? What happens when Jackson-Davis is stifled? Can IU become a consistently good offensive team? Can the Hoosiers beat Purdue? Many questions remain, and there is just half a season left to answer them.
Indiana junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano was selected No. 2 overall by FC Cincinnati in the MLS SuperDraft on Tuesday afternoon, becoming just the third shot-stopper in MLS history to hear his name called in the top two picks. A huge sign of trust was sent by Cincinnati, which opted against other outfield players to bring in a potential long-term solution between the sticks. How did Celentano get here, what does it mean for Indiana, and who is FC Cincinnati getting with their pick? Roman Celentano's Rise Much has been written and said about Celentano since he first arrived at Indiana in 2019. When he first stepped foot in Bloomington, the two-star goalkeeper was met without much fanfare. He began his career buried on IU's depth chart, settling in as the third-string goalkeeper and biding his time behind then-redshirt senior Sean Caulfield and Bryant Pratt. Within half of a season, however, Celentano forced his way onto the field, and soon became the backbone of one of Indiana's most successful periods in recent program history. The starting goalkeeper for two Big Ten regular season titles and two Big Ten tournament titles, Celentano was eventually named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year in back-to-back seasons, the only player in conference history to earn that distinction. The undoubted peak of Celentano's powers came in the 2020-21 spring season, when he collected his first Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year award, then earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Tournament, and finally helped Indiana advance to the College Cup final against Marshall. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers fell 1-0 to the Thundering Herd in overtime, but Celentano maintained his exceptional form throughout the entire NCAA Tournament. Celentano saw his biggest moment of spotlight when he made a heroic four-save sequence in the 2021 Big Ten tournament against Northwestern, which soon garnered national attention. For his efforts, ESPN's SportsCenter put the clip at No. 1 on its Top 10 Plays. https://twitter.com/FOXSoccer/status/1458872189906669575 Before the 2021 fall season, Celentano said he was ready to come back to try and bring Indiana a national title, while continuing to improve himself. His growth during the fall season was evidence of that. https://twitter.com/jackcedwards/status/1481018931007606793 After Indiana fell 3-2 to Washington this past November in the Sweet 16, Celentano opted against returning for a fourth season and instead signed a Generation Adidas deal with Major League Soccer in December. Celentano became the fourth Hoosier to sign a GA contract in the last five years. In totality, Celentano made 52 appearances at Indiana, allowing just 33 goals while recording 28 shutouts. Next season, Indiana will have massive shoes to fill in net, and it will quickly become one of the biggest questions posed to head coach Todd Yeagley ahead of the fall season. What will Celentano bring to FC Cincinnati? If you're a Cincinnati fan that's wondering about the side's top pick, rest assured that the club has made a very safe choice, all things considered. Although goalkeepers are tough to project long-term (see: Celentano's two-star recruiting rank), in Celentano, there's a degree of certainty that Cincinnati fans should find comfort in. Among the two-time All-American's top attributes is his mentality and ability to make the winning plays. Indiana dominated possession against many sides, resulting in most attempts at Celentano coming on the counter. The defensive-heavy play style necessitated constant focus and attention, something Celentano could be counted on for every match. His size is another big attribute. At 6-foot-3, Celentano has the ability to make tougher saves than most goalkeepers, as exemplified in the four-save sequence. He can make himself big and is fearless coming off his line. The raw shot-stopping ability is there as well, and he finds ways to make fans shake their head in awe nearly every time he turns away a shot. Arguably the biggest improvement Celentano has seen over his time at IU is his distribution, but there is still room to grow in that area. During his junior year, he regularly provided an escape valve with long throws or arrowed balls forward to start counter-attacks after making a save. It's hard to gauge talent, but Cincinnati clearly trusts Roman Celentano to live up to the lofty pick and expectations that are sure to follow. After all, Celentano not joins an elite group of goalkeepers to be selected top-2 in the MLS SuperDraft: Brad Guzan (2005) and Andre Blake (2014). If Celentano plays to that level, this will be a pick well spent. What next for Indiana? The best word I can find to describe Celentano's loss is devastating. Celentano was arguably the best goalkeeper in college soccer for the last two seasons, and losing him means losing Indiana's backbone. However, this is a very solvable situation. Indiana has seven months to train and prepare a replacement, and have already gone out to bring in a new face in the goalkeeper room to accomplish this. Indiana will likely return redshirt junior Bryant Pratt and redshirt freshman Austin Himebaugh from last year's roster. Pratt has been Celentano's backup the last two seasons, and enters the 2022 spring season as a strong option for starting goalkeeper, as things currently stand. Himebaugh sat as a freshman last year, learning from the experienced heads in front of him. Interestingly, in a move that hasn't yet been publicly announced by Indiana, the Hoosiers are adding Duke transfer JT Harms. The former Blue Devil is entering his third season, making four appearances over the last two years at Duke and redshirting the 2019 season. Harms will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. It remains to be seen who is selected to replace Celentano in net, with three capable options existing on the roster. Not leaving Indiana, however, is Assistant Coach Christian Lomeli, who was instrumental in Celentano's development. Lomeli is a former Hoosier goalkeeper himself, and has already proven capable of developing a top tier goalkeeper. For the Hoosiers, Celentano's draft selection on Tuesday is further proof that the program remains in a successful and fruitful position. Indiana's ability to create draft ready players is evident. https://twitter.com/IndianaMSOC/status/1480637244696375313 College athletics is a revolving door, and players come and go before moving to the next level. Indiana has created many pro-ready players, and will continue to do so. The future is bright for both Celentano, and his now alma-mater.
Q49 Journal: Washington is the best team Indiana will face this year. What will it take to beat them?
It will be nearly six years to the day that Indiana last traveled for a NCAA tournament matchup when the Hoosiers face off against Washington on Saturday in the Sweet 16. Even IU’s most experienced player, sixth-year senior captain Spencer Glass, wasn’t around for the 1-0 loss against No. 1 Wake Forest on Nov. 29, 2015. Since then, Todd Yeagley has led Indiana to three Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and three College Cup appearances, twice as a runner-up. Any hope of completing the Quest for Nine requires two upsets of teams ranked higher than IU, starting with No. 2 Washington. In today’s Q49 Journal, I break down how the two sides have gotten here, what to expect Saturday and what the deciding factors will come down to. HOW HAVE WE GOTTEN HERE? Starting with the visitors, IU had essentially two finals to determine Big Ten silverware, one away at Maryland at the end of the regular season, and the other away at Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament final. Indiana fell 2-0 to the Terrapins and 3-0 to the Nittany Lions, despite performances that warranted a better scoreline. I’ve written here and spoken on The Q49 Podcast at length about the contrast in performance and result for Indiana, with very few examples of IU failing to put up a strong performance. Narrow margins, clinical finishing and slight elements of luck have led to a different season outlook compared to the Big Ten double won in the spring. Ending Big Ten play with a heavy 3-0 defeat to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament final was an unfortunate conclusion for an Indiana team that had trended positively for the previous several matches. They had to recover quickly however, and face a dangerous Bowling Green team. The response was incredibly impressive. A 2-0 win in which IU was outshot 12-6 on paper is unimpressive, but the Hoosiers put in their most complete performance defensively, in my opinion. The first half was a ‘stalemate’ in the words of head coach Todd Yeagley, with just four total shots heading into the break. Indiana limited the Falcons to just one of those, and allowed few touches inside their 18-yard box. The defensive focus brought in by the return of redshirt senior midfielder Joe Schmidt from injury continued into the second 45. The job was made easier when Victor Bezerra got back on the scoring charts with a composed right-footed finish five minutes into the resumption of play. A second came not long after; following a mazey run by Herbert Endeley, Glass overlapped on the left hand side and placed a shot in the bottom right corner. Indiana created a few good chances for themselves, and scored twice. In the late stages, Yeagley brought on Andrew Goldsworthy as a fifth defender and locked up shop, making Roman Celentano’s time in net a fairly stress-free one. Defending like that against Washington and Indiana has a great chance of victory. Switching sides now, how have Washington fared this season? Over 18 matches, they have a remarkable 15-1-2 record, featuring an 11-game winning streak to enter the season, a Pac-12 record. Washington’s No. 2 seed in the tournament, however, is via an at-large bid as the Huskies failed to win the Pac-12 tournament. The No. 1 team in both the Pac-12 and the nation? Oregon State, who despite having an inferior 13-2-3 record outranked the Huskies based on their head-to-head. Of the three matches Washington has failed to win, one was a scoreless draw with Stanford, and the other two came against Oregon State, with a 3-2 loss at home and a 2-2 draw on the road marking the toughest contests of the season. Against teams in the top-25 in RPI, Washington has gone 3-1-1, while Indiana is just 2-2 in such matches. The Huskies have faced the gauntlet of the toughest conference in RPI, and it prepared them for a rival battle in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Portland. Washington outshot Portland 12-1 in the first half, but had to wait until the 44th minute to open the scoring when Dylan Teves buried a shot after a well-worked counter attack. Washington would endure another long wait, going until the 80th minute when Teves scored again with a header at the back-post. A penalty conceded a minute later opened up some late drama, but Washington made it 3-1 with an unreal finish in the final four minutes from Teves to cap off the hat trick. Washington will stay at home as the Hoosiers travel west for the first matchup between the two sides in over 20 years. DECIDING FACTORS IN THE MATCHUP Indiana and Washington have each at one point this season been ranked No. 1 in the nation. Despite out-seeding the Hoosiers by 13, the Huskies would be wise to avoid downplaying the abilities of their opponent, and obviously the same goes for the visitors. Talented teams play out from the back and use their defenders as key creative and goal-scoring weapons. A battle of left-backs will be something to watch out for. Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Charlie Ostrem leads Washington in assists with eight and has four in the last three matches. Ostrem will prove a threat down the left side with his runs from left-back, especially with the kind of delivery he provided for Teves for the second goal against Portland. On the opposite side, All-American left-back Spencer Glass will be one of Indiana’s biggest creative threats from out wide, following his first goal in over two years against Bowling Green. Brett Bebej and Nyk Sessock will jostle for the right-back position for Indiana, but the defensive solidity of Bebej may triumph over the creative presence of Sessock when trying to balance out who gets the starting nod. Dealing with Ostrem will also require strong defensive acumen from Herbert Endeley who has played in the right midfield position for Indiana in the last few matches. Dylan Teves (9 goals, 7 assists) and Victor Bezerra (7 goals, 5 assists) are the obvious threats up front, leading their respective sides in points. Both will be tightly marked and will need to bring exceptional off-ball and link-up play to make their fullest impact. Neither team allows many good looks inside the 18, and it may come down to which side can get a moment of magic to break the lock. The deciding factor for me: composure. We saw five total instances of it in the final third in the second round of NCAA action between the two sides. When they picked their spots, read the match well, and played the extra pass near the goal, good things happened. Indiana have been working all season on getting more comfortable and lethal in front of goal, and having the decision making and composure to convert on the few chances they get will be vital. On The Q49 Podcast before the NCAA tournament, I predicted Indiana would win the College Cup. That starts with IU knocking off its toughest foe of the season in the Sweet 16. When Indiana last won a national title in 2012, it had to overcome Goliath in the form of No. 1 Notre Dame. Are the Hoosiers up for playing the role of David once more? We’ll see on Saturday night.
Tournament season starts a match early for Indiana men’s soccer. A win against Maryland on Sunday earns the Hoosiers a fourth consecutive Big Ten regular season title. A loss ends the streak, and condemns them to either second or third in the Big Ten Tournament. This Friday edition of the Q49 Journal breaks down the biggest match of Indiana’s season so far, pulling from past performances and past meetings between the perennial contenders in the Big Ten. HOW HAVE MARYLAND GOT HERE? Maryland enters Halloween weekend ranked No. 7 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll, with an overall record of 11-3-1 and a conference record of 4-2-1. The Terrapins’ path to a regular season title requires them to win at home against the Hoosiers, and for the Wisconsin vs. Penn State matchup to end in a draw or loss for the Nittany Lions. Heading into this week Maryland controlled its destiny, facing off against Penn State and Indiana in the space of six days. Things trended well against Penn State, with goals from Ben Bender and Caden Stafford inside 30 minutes setting themselves on the path for a road victory. However, the Terrapins began to unravel just before halftime with Nittany Lions forward Peter Mangione firing home from eight yards out after poor inside-the box defending. A Maryland throw-in inside their half turned into a tap-in at the back post for Seth Kuhn, sending the match to overtime. The Terrapins will count themselves unlucky that a deflected free-kick golden goal sentenced them to defeat, but to drop a match from a position of strength will be worrying for head coach Sasho Cirovski. Although it’s a rather flawed way of viewing performance, the goals conceded follows a trend of leakiness from the Maryland defense. Through seven conference matches, Maryland has conceded eight goals, shutting out just Rutgers in a goalless draw. The clear key player for Maryland lies in midfield, with Ben Bender, whose six goals and four assists leads the team in both categories. The first goal against Penn State was a wonderful outside the left foot shot from the edge of the 18-yard-box from Bender. The best freshman in the nation in Top Drawer Soccer’s mid-season Top 100 Freshman Joshua Bolma will also pose threats for Indiana’s defense that has maintained shutouts in their last seven matches. Blessed with individual talent, Maryland are seventh in the nation for a reason. Indiana will have to be disciplined and focused in defense if they hope to wrap the regular season on their shutout streak. HOW HAVE INDIANA GOT HERE? My last piece spelled out Indiana’s defensive issues through the first eight matches of the season. Sitting at 5-2-1 at the time of posting and conceding just over a goal a game, Indiana followed it up with a 2-1 loss at home to Michigan. Slight panic set in amongst the fan base. But not in the Hoosiers’ locker room. Indiana have won seven straight, conceding none and scoring 21 goals (at a clean rate of three per game). Their last match against VCU was the culmination of a season of improvement and fine-tuning. The Hoosiers had two goals within eleven minutes against a team that garnered top-25 votes just a day prior. “Tonight you could feel it from the beginning. It felt good all night,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said after the match. The re-introduction of Sam Sarver to the starting lineup worked wonders, as he scored twice and assisted another in his best individual game of the season. “It was one of the reasons we inserted him in tonight, we knew he could create a lot of havoc in that press,” Yeagley said after the match. Indiana are trending up in the perfect time. To read more on the VCU victory, Jared Kelly wrote a great piece on the overall night from Indiana. HOW HAVE THESE MATCHES GONE IN THE PAST? Heading into the season, Indiana and Maryland were not expected to battle it out to be the dominant force in the Big Ten. Indiana was a unanimous first choice in the preseason poll coming off a National Championship appearance, but Maryland was selected fourth behind Penn State and Michigan. A regular season later however sees them playing the deciding match for the title. Last season the Hoosiers and Terrapins met in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, with Indiana winning 2-0 off the back of a Victor Bezerra brace. The starting XI this fall will look slightly different, as Indiana had Brett Bebej filling in for the injured Spencer Glass at left-back, now-graduated A.J. Palazollo in the midfield, and Nate Ward leading the line. Expect Glass to return, and potentially Ben Yeagley and Sarver to start in College Park on Halloween. The predominant creative force for Indiana in the spring encounter came down the right hand side, with Brett Bebej’s defensive inclination at left-back allowing Nyk Sessock free reign to bomb forward, providing width and support from a deeper position. He notched his first Indiana assist with a beautiful right-footed ball into Bezerra inside the box. His role will likely be more balanced this time around, with Glass also looking to attack from the left-back position in his last regular season game in an Indiana shirt. Of note from my second viewing of the match was the passing of Bezerra. He frequently dropped deep into the midfield and spread the ball out wide, mainly to the right wing for Herbert Endeley to free him into 1v1s. Given Maryland’s struggle from cross-field balls against Penn State, expect the junior to play a slight quarter-back role again. The last match in College Park was heavily one-sided for the Terrapins, who had three goals inside half an hour. That match stretches back to 2019 however, and six of the starters have since moved on from Indiana. Expect the atmosphere and occasion to play a large role in the early proceedings. Indiana would be well advised to be more cautious on their press than they were against VCU. Both teams can start fast, but the home atmosphere might edge the early moments with the crowd behind them. Indiana’s regular season is over in many aspects. Every match from now until December furthers the chance of silverware. A legendary quadruple double looms for the Hoosiers. It’s time to reach out and claim it.
In the spring 2021 season, IU men’s soccer showcased one of the best defenses in recent collegiate memory. Across 16 games -- the most played of any team in the nation -- the Hoosiers allowed just six goals, tallied 10 shutouts and never conceded more than one goal in a single match. Fast forward just a few months later, and through eight matches this fall, Indiana’s defense has looked more vulnerable than they did at any point in the spring. What’s gone wrong? It certainly isn’t the personnel as every member of last season’s defense returned, including two All-Americans in goalkeeper Roman Celentano and left back Spencer Glass. Despite the extensive experience and talent along IU’s backline, it’s already conceded nine goals in eight matches -- three more than all of last season in eight fewer games -- and two or more goals in three matches. Even more concerning, unranked Creighton blitzed IU for three goals in a match that was heavily one-sided from the opening touch. Is complacency the issue? Has IU’s strategy finally been countered? Let’s dive into what happened last year, how it can provide a blueprint for the current issues, and potential solutions to fix the backline woes. A LOOK BACK AT THE SPRING Indiana’s resoluteness on defense and goal-keeping heroics from Celentano saw the Hoosiers embark on a trip to the National Championship, where they lost to Marshall, 1-0, in overtime. When reflecting on Marshall’s game-winning goal, Celentano described it as a brief loss of focus. It appears Indiana hasn’t regained that since. However, throughout the NCAA tournament and the Big Ten season leading up to the College Cup, Indiana attacked and defended as a unit, and displayed great focus and decision-making to pull out narrow victories. Let’s take a look at the six goals Indiana conceded last season: Five goals conceded in the box and one super strike from range completes the six goals IU allowed. So, what does that mean? To me, it indicates a stubbornness to allow teams good looks inside the 18-yard box. All three goals conceded in Big Ten action (to Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State, respectively) came from restarts. Northwestern scored off a flicked header off a long throw. Michigan State scored off a corner kick directly. Penn State scored after a nice move following a rebound off a corner kick. Up until a 90-yard pass against St. Francis Brooklyn and a wonder goal from Marquette in the Sweet Sixteen, Indiana hadn’t conceded a single goal from open play. Those you can chalk up as a nice move from the opponent with some luck involved. The sixth and final goal was a rebound in the National Championship. Over 16 matches, Indiana was confined to just six scrappy (and occasionally brilliant) moments from their opponents. The Hoosiers offered foes nearly nothing in terms of mistakes and refused to concede well-worked goals. The location of those goals showcase a team that couldn’t be broken down from deep lying positions: a true testament to the dedication of Indiana’s midfield and forward line in supporting the defense. Should we hold Indiana to such high standards again this season? Yes, I think so. Though Indiana lost two key pieces in the offseason -- midfielder A.J. Palazzolo and forward Thomas Warr -- it gained three exciting freshmen in midfielders Patrick McDonald and Tommy Mihalic and forward Sam Sarver. But even with those additions and the plethora of returning contributors, Indiana seemingly didn’t return the same defensive unit. PROBLEMS IN THE FALL Indiana entered this season ranked No. 2 in the country, and with it came another round of immense expectations in pursuit of the coveted ninth star. While six goals conceded in a pair of exhibition matches to Louisville and Wright State could be chalked up as rust, it marked the start of something more concerning. At face value, nine goals is three more than were conceded all of last season, and in half the amount of matches. Let’s narrow it down to just the goal-scoring shots that IU has conceded. One from range, one inside the six-yard box and seven within eight to 18 yards of the net. This shows the most clear regression for Indiana -- where last season there was almost always an IU midfielder or forward closing down a late run or an attempted shot from an opposing midfielder or defender. This season, however, opponents have far more space to operate and create dangerous chances. Generally, when center back’s Joey Maher and Daniel Munie move closer to the goal on defense, a chasm opens between them and a nearby midfielder. Palazzolo excelled last season in winning the ball back in the midfield and killing opportunities before they developed. But Palazzolo is no longer a Hoosier. Does this mean Indiana’s midfield is the problem? Not really. McDonald and Joe Schmidt have held down the midfield as part of a 4-4-2 alignment that regularly becomes a 4-2-4 with players like Mihalic, Herbert Endeley, Maouloune Goumballe and Ryan Wittenbrink all bringing significant attacking ability. They have done a good job in chance creation, ball progression and retention, and rarely are the victim of mistakes. But overall, Indiana’s defensive shape has regressed. It’s not down to an individual, it’s down to a group. It’s also no disrespect to the freshman McDonald to suggest that the senior Palazzolo was more vocal and a better leader. That’s just simple age and experience, something McDonald will develop over time. Warr exchanged for a combination of Mihalic and Sarver is a similar removal of veteran savvy and leadership, but also increased talent and spark. The consequence is a team that needs to sort itself out over time. Starting three freshmen like Indiana did at the start of the campaign is rare, but an indication of trust from the coaching staff. As a result of the youth movement, the Hoosiers’ shape and cohesiveness has taken a hit. When comparing the raw shot numbers over the first eight matches this season and last season, the struggles become increasingly glaring. Last season: 63 shots faced, an average of just under 10 shots per match. This season: 94 shots faced, an average of just under 12 shots a match. So how does IU fix this? THE SOLUTION TO INDIANA'S DEFENSIVE PROBLEMS Now, what would I, a man who’s organized soccer experience peaks at recreational soccer in high school, do to fix a team with aspirations for a National Championship? Trust Todd Yeagley, mostly. Indiana clearly has the talent, but it needs to improve its defensive shape and concentration in key moments. That will almost certainly come as the season progresses. However, it’s still a lingering problem in its current form, and it needs to be solved quickly. For the Hoosiers to set the groundwork for another College Cup run this winter, it must start with discipline and desire from top to bottom. We’ve seen Yeagley phase McDonald and Sarver out of the starting lineup in place of more experienced players in the last two matches, both in place of Quinten Helmer and Wittenbrink. This indicates a desire from Yeagley to improve the understanding and comfort the players have on the field. The results have been promising since the rotation shakeup: a season low in shots allowed to Northwestern and an effective defensive display against Michigan State, earning two Big Ten wins and allowing just one goal. Ultimately, eight matches is still far too small of a sample size to make definitive conclusions. Sure, despite entering this season as a national title contender, Indiana is still in search of its identity and true ceiling. But trust should not waver in Yeagley, the coaching staff and Indiana to address its struggles -- they’ve earned that.
So far, so good for No. 1 Indiana. After avoiding a massive scare in the season-opener in South Bend -- a 3-2 overtime win against Notre Dame -- the Hoosiers opened their home slate last Tuesday with a much more commanding 1-0 result over Butler. By no means was it easy, though. But what win is easy when you’re without a MAC Hermann Trophy runner-up (Victor Bezerra), senior captain midfielder (Joe Schmidt) and key rotational forward (Ryan Wittenbrink) due to injury? Fortunately, the return of All-American left-back Spencer Glass to the Starting XI helped to soften the blow. And in Glass, the Hoosiers were able to find the lone goal of the match. The game-winner began with junior forward Herbert Endeley, who went on one of his trademark runs before a late tackle from a Butler defender brought Endeley to the turf just outside the 18-yard box. Free-kick Indiana. Glass, as he’s done time and again in his IU career, calmly hovers over the dead-ball spot to survey his options. Within seconds he knows where to put the ball. He swings his left foot. The pass collides with sophomore defender Joey Maher’s head but clanks off the near post. The ball jostles around in front of Butler’s net. Nate Ward tries a second header but only finds the chest of a Butler defender. Third time’s a charm: Maher stays on his toes and rifles the ball with his right foot. The Hoosier crowd roars in the 29th minute and is the only tally needed to get past the Bulldogs. “We bent a few times, but yet our help defense was good, we were able to get a body or obviously Roman makes a save,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said after the match. So what changed for IU to go from the nail-biter in South Bend to posting a relatively dominant clean sheet against Butler? It starts with a calmer and more organized backline. Glass’s return to the starting lineup certainly helped, but the Hoosiers defense also benefited from a more stable group ahead of it, with the midfield producing a strong performance. Give credit to Tommy Mihalic, Endeley, Lawson Redmon and Lukas Hummel. “I felt like the guys coming off the bench were very hungry, very energetic.” Maher said. This type of tactical flexibility comes with the increasing options available for Yeagley. Indiana can afford to rest All-Americans knowing capable backups exist in the squad. The performance is even more impressive when you consider who else wasn’t available in addition to Bezerra: senior captain midfielder Joe Schmidt and dynamic forward Ryan Wittenbrink. Freshman Tommy Mihalic can step up and fill Bezerra’s shoes, another freshman in Patrick McDonald can play beyond his age to cover for Schmidt, and both Lawson Redmon and Brett Bebej have proven capable of dropping into the defense. Maouloune Goumballe, Samuel Sarver, Endeley and Mihalic all featured as both a forward or wide midfielder against Butler, proving a nightmare for teams to defend against. Very few teams can match the depth Indiana can draw from. Despite many positives, there is still a lot of room to grow. “I still feel like offensively we’re not quite where we need to be.” Yeagley said after the match. The potential of the group both in terms of youth and availability is a tantalizing prospect. When Indiana start getting closer to perfect, opposition teams better watch out. LOOKING FORWARD TO ADIDAS/IU CREDIT UNION CLASSIC Indiana will make it a trio of Big East opponents this weekend when it hosts Creighton and Xavier in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Credit following the win against Butler. However, the Hoosiers will be presented with tactical styles that they’ve yet to encounter this season. “They’ll probably be a little different in their defensive stature,” Yeagley said ahead of the classic “Creighton will probably try and open the game up a little bit more. I see Xavier sitting and reducing space and looking for transition moments.” Indiana may have an advantage in playing a match that’s more open offensively, though, with Sarver, Mihalic and Endeley all thriving when running at defenders with the ball. And with the Blue Jays and Musketeers coming to town, the trio should get plenty of opportunities to do just that. In Creighton, its biggest threat comes in reigning Big East Offensive Player of the Year Diego Gutierrez. The senior was so impressive, in fact, that he was selected by the Portland Timbers in the third round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft last winter, but he opted to return to the Blue Jays. In the Musketeers, IU will face a team that has produced 15 first-round MLS Draft Picks since 2015, which means talent should be of no concern on either side. However, Xavier is looking to bounce back from an extremely uncharacteristic 2020 season in which it failed to win a single regular-season conference match. Dynamic forwards Karsen Henderlong and Felix Boe-Tangen and midfielder Jolly Jerome should offer a tough test for IU’s backline as the trio have already combined for seven of Xavier’s 12 points this season. With the likely returns of Bezerra, Schmidt and Wittenbrink in some capacity this weekend, Indiana should be able to remain stout regardless of the circumstance or opponent. Nonetheless, the Hoosiers will have their hands full in the annual home Classic, but these are the kinds of non-conference opponents that need to be dealt with if the Hoosiers want to prove their worthiness as the top team in the nation.
Indiana needed heroics in the 92nd minute in its season opener at Notre Dame. Something special. Anything, really. First step — Herbert Endeley whips a ball in from the left side. He only finds the head of a Notre Dame defender, knocking it out of the box. Second step — A loose ball inside the goalkeeper box, just one IU snipe to rectify a less-than-stellar night. Third step — Ben Yeagley finds the ball at his feet. He prods forward. Fourth step — For just the fifth time as an Indiana Hoosier, he rifles a shot. Weak footed, on the half volley, with the outside of his foot. It was there for the taking. A win. A celebration. A dogpile. For a player who has never scored a goal in a crimson kit, the redshirt junior picked the perfect moment for his first.
The start of the 2020-21 men’s soccer season required more patience than the typical year. Four-hundred and fifty days separated IU’s NCAA tournament loss to UC Santa Barbara in 2019 and a 3-0 win against Wisconsin in Feb. 2021. But this season has been almost the exact opposite. Only 102 days will separate the National Championship defeat to Marshall and Friday’s season-opener at Notre Dame. This is the Q49 Journal, a weekly series where I’ll offer an inside perspective on the journey of Indiana men’s soccer as they fight for a ninth star. On the cards for today: a recap of IU’s pre-season, a look at roster changes, and a preview of the trip to South Bend. Let’s get into it. PRESEASON THOUGHTS AND ROSTER CHANGES Indiana opened the fall with a scoreless draw against DePaul, failing to create a great chance in 110 minutes of action. The Hoosiers responded with nine goals scored in their next 180 minutes against Wright State and Louisville, but also let in six into their own net. On paper, Indiana’s pre-season defensive numbers might be alarming. In the spring, IU conceded just six goals in 14 matches (a nation-best 0.42 goals-per-game). In the last two exhibition matches, IU matched that total. Is this a worry? Probably not. The first three goals against Louisville came from slow closing down of shots around the edge of the 18-yard box, two whizzing past goal-keeper Roman Celentano’s hands and another finding the hand of Joey Maher. That is solved with experience and communication. “I’d say it’s just really small defensive moments of detail, whether it’s communication or one-twos, that we could have been a bit more locked in on,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said in the buildup to the season-opener against Notre Dame. One of the players usually preventing chances at the edge of the box last season, A.J. Palazzolo, moved on after graduation. He excelled at winning the ball back and preventing teams who may have outnumbered IU in the midfield from creating through the middle. Brett Bebej, Emerson Nieto, Quinten Helmer and Ben Yeagley have all featured in preseason as options to step up next to senior captain Joe Schmidt in the engine room. The midfield under Yeagley in recent years has largely served as the fulcrum for Indiana’s movement on both sides of the ball. The midfield has the potential to be part of an incredibly exciting attacking group. “We’re so dynamic up top, we can chase guys all over the field now,” Schmidt said. The ‘now’ refers to the additions of freshmen Sam Sarver and Tommy Mihalic, who have already staked a place in the starting XI. Mihalic was named in Top Drawer Soccer’s Freshman Best XI after picking up a goal in the win against Louisville. Mihalic brings versatility as a wide midfielder or center-forward, and has used the time around the team as an early enrollee to get involved in the attacking movement seamlessly. Sarver is Indiana’s highest-ranked recruit, No. 32 in the 2021 class according to Top Drawer Soccer. The energy in his individual pressing has been praised by Yeagley and Schmidt, and while he has yet to tally his first goal as a Hoosier, it feels like it’s just a matter of time considering the opportunities he has created for himself. The new additions are combined with the continued development of Maouloune Goumballe, Herbert Endeley, Ryan Wittenbrink and Nate Ward, which offers Indiana a variety of attacking options -- and that isn’t even mentioning star forward Victor Bezerra. Indiana’s 4-4-2 often morphs into a 4-2-4 when on the attack, and when Nyk Sessock and (when fit) Spencer Glass overlap from the defense, Bezerra is surrounded by a group that gives him a chance to break even more records in the fall. He revealed on The Q49 Podcast that he turned down MLS offers to stay at Indiana, and Indiana seems poised to take full advantage. Five goals in two preseason appearances is an unbelievable start to a season, but for Bezerra, it feels standard. Toward the end of the spring season, teams began to frustrate IU’s attack by double-teaming Bezerra. That strategy likely won’t fly this time around, however. Take, for example, IU’s second goal against Louisville: Endeley dribbles inside from the right wing, before sliding a pass back out to the right to an overlapping Sessock. Sessock plays a low ball into the box in the direction of Bezerra, who leaves it to find Mihalic for a tap-in at the back post. If IU can replicate these types of unselfish chances throughout the regular season, look out. All in all, Indiana should view the preseason as a success as they were able to evaluate new players and evolving rotations. Now, the Hoosiers turn the page to regular season action. NOTRE DAME PREVIEW Since 2001, Indiana and Notre Dame have met every fall season at least once in the annual Berticelli Memorial Game. What should IU expect from the Fighting Irish? Well, they have a much larger sample size to watch film from given the ACC competed in both the fall and spring, the only Power 5 conference to do so due to COVID-19 restrictions. Notre Dame posted an 8-9 overall record, winning a conference tournament match in the fall, but losing their last four matches. Leading the Fighting Irish in scoring was junior forward Jack Lynn, who earned All-ACC honors. His eight goals were good for second in the conference, and he is the lone Notre Dame player on the ACC preseason watch list. Not returning, however, were two key cogs to the team: All-ACC midfielder Aiden McFadden and goal-keeper Keagan McLaughlin. McFadden led Notre Dame with four assists and finished second in points with 12. McLaughin’s departure opens the door to a contest for the ‘keeper spot between junior Thomas Deslongchamps, freshman Liam Egan and sophomore Bryan Dowd. An average season coupled with player losses led to a bottom ranking in the Coastal Division in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll. While the Hoosiers travel as overwhelming favorites, Alumni Stadium has proven a tricky stadium for IU. Two wins, two losses and a draw in their last five trips, including a 4-0 loss in 2016 against the then-No. 1 Fighting Irish, will require an effective IU performance to open the season in the desired manner. “They’re always well organized and well coached, they don’t complicate the game,” Yeagley said. “Notre Dame don’t beat themselves, we’re going to have to earn our goals.” IU has had all summer to think over the overtime defeat to Marshall. Though an in-state rivalry will pose a tough challenge to open the season, a team with College Cup aspirations like IU has to prove it can handle such a test. “We’ve been waiting for our first game since we lost in May,” Schmidt said. “We’re ready for anything, we can deal with a little crowd noise.”