The first game of the season ended in a draw for the IU Men’s Soccer team vs No. 9 Georgetown, but the unranked Hoosiers delivered quite a punch in front of a packed Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Coach Todd Yeagley managed the game well, switching between 4-1-4-1 and traditional 4-4-2 to make a more natural transition for both offense and defense. IU played some aggressive, fast-paced offensive soccer, which kept the ball in Georgetown’s side for the first 15 minutes of the half, and eventually resulted in a goal by IU junior Femi Hollinger Janzen in the 25th minute. But the Hoyas made quite an impressive comeback after they came out from the locker room, tying the game in the 58th minute with a goal by junior forward Brandon Allen.
Even though the flat four defensive line of the Hoosiers managed to pull off a good looking offside trap, Coach Yeagley decided to give up this strategic move early in the game due to the speed of Georgetown’s counter attack.
The perfect example of the Hoya’s counter attack happened minutes into the second half. Allen timed his run perfectly, breaking IU’s offside trap and pulling off a one-on-one with the IU sophomore GK. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, the ball was slightly high to the right and Webb did a great job to it from going in. But the Allen’s breakaway was telling nonetheless. Georgetown understood that going head-to-head with the gigantic center backs of IU wasn’t its game, and decided to use mobility as its main offensive weapon instead.
This could remain a problem all season long for IU. Choosing the taller, more physically-minded players like freshman defender Grant Lillard gives the Hoosiers strong protection in most defensive situations. But the higher center of gravity of bigger players means a slower turnaround, making speed the Achilles’ heel of the Hoosier defense. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Coach Yeagley finds balance between the physical strength and speed of his defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, Hollinger-Janzen is one of the most important pieces for this IU team. For 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of OT, he was everywhere, almost single-handedly taking on the left side of the field as the target man. He provides a crucial second option opposite junior Andrew Oliver, allowing the forward more flexibility to play some fox-in-the-box. Hollinger-Janzen holds court over the ball and eases the transition from defense into offense.
Another bright side for the Hoosiers was sophomore Tanner Thompson, who did his part on offense by creating a couple free kicks for the Hoosiers. He caught the attention of the Hoyas, who exerted a tremendous effort trying to stop Thompson before he passed the halfway line. The reason was pretty obvious. Thompson is IU’s play-maker, and stopping him means breaking up the Hoosiers’ momentum and offensive development. In order to give the midfielder more scoring opportunities, Coach Yeagley may want to consider putting a wingman beside Thompson to take away some of the heat.
This Georgetown match-up was the first regular season game for the Hoosiers. The fact is that this men’s soccer team—who lost six starters that accounted for to over 60% of the goals scored last year—tied the No. 9 team in the nation is more than many fans could have hoped for coming in to the Adidas/ IU Credit Union Classic. But a contest with No. 12 Marquette is looming on Sunday, and things are about to get real for the Hoosiers. Coach Yeagley’s team delivered one heck of a fight at home, and made a strong case that IU can be more than just an underdog in this years’ tournament.
By: Raymond Wato