It may have seemed impossible before the tournament started, but the unranked IU men’s soccer team entered Sunday afternoon with a chance to win the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. The opportunity was set up earlier in the day by No. 1 Notre Dame, who failed to get it done in overtime, tying No. 9 Georgetown at one-all. The Hoosiers would need to beat No. 12 Marquette by two goals or more in order to win the title outright.
Marquette tried to throw IU from the get-go by using an unconventional 3-5-1 formation. With Golden Eagles packing the midfield, IU Coach Todd Yeagley decided to stretch his team to far sides of the field. The strategic move sacrificed IU’s control of the midfield, but allowed the Hoosiers to use the width of the field as an avenue to guide the ball into the pocket at the top of the Marquette’s penalty box.
The strategy succeeded in the 31st minute when IU sophomore Tanner Thompson assisted freshman Michael Riedford for game’s first and only score. Following the goal, Marquette switched to a flat four defense to provide more protection for its goalie. IU also adjusted, slowing down its offense in the second half. Shots on goal favored the Hoosiers 11-to-4 in the first half, yet split an even 6-to-6 in the second half of play. Marquette tried to push up and created more shots, yet couldn’t manage to get the ball in the net. The Hoosiers would go on to win 1-0, earning the tournament’s only unranked team a co-championship with defending national champion Notre Dame.
Offensively, the key to IU’s success was largely due to junior forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen. Hollinger-Janzen was the tip of the spear, using his unlimited supply of stamina to lead the Hoosiers down the left side of the field throughout the game. The junior’s confidence with the ball demonstrates another kind of leadership that is in high demand on an IU squad comprised of 14 newcomers.
The Hoosiers’ youth showed at times, particularly when IU gave up the ball with no pressure from the other side. This problem can and should be improved as the season progresses as the team develops better chemistry.
The Hoosiers had an advantage playing on their home turf this weekend, but a 17-to-10 shots on goal differential speaks to IU’s dominance against Marquette on Sunday. The underdogs exit the weekend having tied one ranked team and defeated another. Now, the only question is whether the Hoosiers should be ranked themselves.
Ever since IU won its preseason match-up with No. 6 Washington, Coach Yeagley’s team has shown signs of being far better than any soccer pundit would have expected. The Hoosiers entered the regular season ranked fifth out of nine teams in the Big Ten, and perhaps that put a chip on their shoulder. Personally, I think the only the goal IU needs to have in mind is to keep the momentum going. Being unranked means less of a spotlight, which is great for this young and talented IU team.
By this time next week, we should have a much clearer picture of this IU Men’s Soccer team as it takes to the road for the first time this season, at Kentucky on Friday and at Dartmouth on Sunday. But for now, Hoosier fans should be pleased with the early signs from this talented IU team.
By: Raymond Wato