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2-2 men's soccer look to pop .500 bubble


By Kevin Loughery



The men’s soccer team has been training with a defense-first philosophy this year.

In the final practice before a weekend out east that will feature games against Brown and Massachusetts, that mentality continued. IU put the finishing touches on a week of training by giving sophomore goalkeeper Luis Soffner and his defense some reps at defending free kicks.

“We can’t take any games for granted,” junior forward Will Bruin said. “It’s hard mentally to stay focused, but we’ve got to make sure we stay focused for every game regardless of who we’re playing.”

This attitude developed after two strange weekends of results for the Hoosiers. The team split two games in each, giving them a 2-2 season record. On Sunday of both weekends, the No. 24 Hoosiers upset then-No. 5 UCLA and then-No. 22 Drake, respectively.

In the Friday games of both tournaments, IU fell to unranked California and Cal Poly.

“I would say, probably, the preparation to the games was a little lighter than what needs to be,” said Bruin, who was recently named the No. 2 upperclassman in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com. “We can’t be having these games we lose and then we’re like, ‘Alright, we’ve got to have a good performance.’ We have to have a good performance every game.”

The 7 p.m. Friday start against Brown (2-0-2) in Providence, R.I. is only the second meeting between the two schools. The last time IU played Brown was in 1999, making them one of the most unfamiliar opponents on the schedule.

“We haven’t really talked that much about them yet,” sophomore forward Tim Wylie said. “We know that they’re a really good team. They’re in the top few in the Ivy League, so going out there it would be good to get a win for the RPI later. Just to get a good win against a great team at their place out east.”

Quick starts have been the key to victory thus far for the Hoosiers. Three of its four first half goals were netted in their two wins so far this year. Last year, IU had four first half goals all season.

“We’re all feeling pretty confident going in,” senior midfielder Rich Balchan said. “Two wins, I think we should definitely be able to get two wins. Anything less we would be disappointed. We’ve got to get on a roll here. We can’t just sit on this .500
bubble.”

Balchan said he expects some playing time this weekend off the bench after missing more than three weeks of practice with an injury.

Regardless of the season’s start, Bruin said the losses against two unranked teams are nothing to worry about as his team moves into its third week of the season.

Instead, he said, a two-win campaign out east will put the Hoosiers right on track for where they expect to be.

“The results probably don’t show as well as we’ve been playing,” he said. “I’d rather have those two losses come early than later so we can learn from our mistakes going on in the season. I’d say we’re pretty good right now. We have to have a good weekend and if we have a good weekend, then we’ll be sitting about right where we need to be.”

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