Men’s Soccer falls to No. 16 Penn State

Men’s Soccer falls to No. 16 Penn State for its first loss of the season  

Penn State struck first. It was sophomore midfielder Mason Klerks who, in the 26th minute, fired the ball into the top right corner of IU’s net off a corner kick. There was nothing IU goalkeeper Colin Webb could do.

It could be telling moment for the Hoosiers on Saturday night at Jerry Yeagley Field. No. 11 IU dominated Penn State’s territory in the second half, yet no matter how many shots the Hoosiers took, there was seemingly nothing they could do to get the ball in the net.

The message was clear from Coach Todd Yeagley at halftime: strike back. IU nearly doubled its goal attempts from seven in the first half to 13 in the second half— a combined 20 for the game compared to Penn State’s six. Yet none of those 20 would result in a score. Webb showed great on-field awareness by stopping Penn State scoring again. In the last seconds of the game, he nearly redeemed the Hoosiers, but his header hit the side of the net, and IU lost its first game of the season.

Coach Yeagley’s strategy against Penn State was line up a 4-2-3-1 defensive line with freshman Michael Riedford and senior Dylan Lax creating a shield in front of the flat four. This released sophomore midfielder Tanner Thompson from the defensive position, giving him more opportunity to find gaps. His quick acceleration and footwork were key factors for attacking against the Nittany Lions, but his shots simply couldn’t fall. If the Hoosiers continue to use this strategy going forward, expect Thompson to be deadly weapon in IU’s arsenal. Next time, he won’t miss.

Through the Hoosiers first five games of the season, Lax has been a consistent destroyer on the defensive end of the ball. He is the first line of the defense, and the lynch pin of Coach Yeagley’s defensive strategy. Lax is the only defensive who spent the full 90 minutes on the field Saturday, and as the holding midfielder, his did his job repelling attackers by intercepting passes with tackling and shrewd position. His consistency will be crucial if IU wants to bounce back in its next match-up.

This was the first time that IU had to play from behind. The Hoosiers tried very hard to tie the game, but only two of its 20 goal attempts were on target. The Hoosiers need to find a way to keep the ball moving while the team is transitioning from defense to offense. Junior midfielder Femi Hollinger-Janzen is the obvious choice, but IU needs a second option. The team was limited by relying on Hollinger-Janzen at the point of the formation in the first half, although Coach Yeagley made a good halftime adjustment by throwing more players up front. The idea was right for the Hoosiers, who showed great determination by fighting until the last second of the game. IU’s shots simply weren’t on point against its first Big Ten opponent.

The loss is a tough one for the Hoosiers, but the cogs are in place for the team going forward. This young squad showed potential through its will to win. The season has already shown a lot of upside. Let’s continue to take it one game at a time.

By: Raymond Wato