On October 13, IU Men’s Soccer hit No.1 in the RPI and No. 5 in the weekly AP Coach’s Poll, setting up an exciting match-up with Maryland on Sunday. On paper, this game seemed to be Indiana’s opportunity for celebration after IU football’s abysmal loss to Michigan State on Saturday. But fans failed to realize that this Maryland team, unranked, is much like one of those alligators that you see on Discovery Channel: hiding in the water, waiting for a strike.
Maryland was considered as one of the best teams in the Big Ten conference preseason rankings. The Terrapins marched into Jerry Yeagley Field on a three-game win streak, including an impressive 4-0 win against B1G conference leader Penn State.
The first goal came at the 20 minute mark. Maryland’s senior forward-Alex Shinsky made a push deep into the right-hand side of Hoosier territory when IU senior Kerel Bradford chose not to chase him down. Instead, Bradford dropped into the top of the IU 18-yard box to cover for junior center back Derek Creviston, giving Shinsky time to pull off a beautiful shot towards the far side of the goal. A shot like that takes skill, demonstrating Shinsky’s ability to handle better than most strikers, who tend to pick the near pole for more power and accuracy. Here’s a picture I drew that displays the the angle (and coverage) on Shinky’s shot:
Maryland’s second goal was a header from their 6’5” defender-Alex Crognale to put the score at 2-0. But the Hoosiers would not be defeated so easily. IU responded with a header from junior Femi Hollinger-Janzen. The Hoosiers controlled the last 15 minutes of the game, but could not find the equalizer to bring the game to overtime.
Maryland came prepared and executed its strategy perfectly, which is why the Terrapins pulled off a win at Bill Armstrong Stadium. This game highlighted a weakness on this young IU team, which is the Hoosiers’ inability to handle high balls. Maryland created five corner kicks in the first half of the game, throwing everyone onto IU’s territory except the goalkeeper. Coach Yeagley answered this by keeping Hoosiers on the defensive, which means there were almost 20 players packed in Indiana’s 18-yard box. IU goalkeeper Colin Webb typically tries to come out and catch the ball as part of his defensive mechanism against corner kicks. But against the Terrapins, Webb would not be able to make a clean catch, having to punch the ball away to keep it out of the goal. All Maryland had to do was to wait for its chance when Webb lost his positioning, and score a goal amidst the chaos. This risky style of play is not something that you will see at the international level, but with the high pressure stakes and physical style of play, the Terrapins showed they were desperate for a win.
Tonight the Hoosiers will take on Notre Dame. The Fightin’ Irish were No. 1 in the NCAA preseason rankings and will be tough competition against which the Hoosiers must attempt to secure a rebound win. The young team will be challenged to respond after its loss to Maryland, and it will be interesting to see if they are up to task come 7 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The only way to shake off a tough loss is to get out their and win with authority.
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