After a 1-0 second round win at home over the Akron Zips, the No. 7 seeded Hoosiers got a chance to take part in one of the program’s favorite traditions: Tudor Room Turkey.
But that wasn't all they were sticking around for.
The win meant IU got to stick around in Bloomington for another week to prepare for its NCAA Tournament Round of 16 match against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
The unseeded Hokies travel to Bloomington off an upset win over the No. 10-seed Charlotte 49ers.
For IU, the recipe stays the same. It will look to set the tone with its defense and hope it can create enough chances and quality in the final third to find the back of the net.
“Here at Indiana, we really take pride in our defense,” IU sophomore midfielder Francesco Moore said. “That’s kind of our calling card.”
IU's goal coming into the season was 12 clean sheets. The shutout victory over Akron gave the Hoosiers their 11th. If they can hold off their ACC opponent Sunday, they will have reached their goal and punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
The Hoosiers would also knock one of the eight remaining ACC teams out of the tournament.
IU Coach Todd Yeagley praised the effort of IU's backline after the win over Akron. He said junior Grant Lillard turned in an All-American performance, and that no one is more driven than senior right back Billy McConnell.
“You’ve got a player like Billy that’s so driven,” Yeagley said. “He wants to be at the end of this smiling.”
McConnell said after the Akron match the team was able to properly implement things they were working on in practice to the game. Both McConnell and Yeagley described the backline as connected, and if this squad can communicate properly, the Hoosier defense will be hard to break down.
“We were able to fine-tune some of the mistakes we made earlier in the year with clearing the ball,” McConnell said after defeating Akron. “That’s what we’ve been working on in practice. Defensively, we’re connected. We’re in sync. We just kept our focus and did what we worked on.”
The Hoosiers did so without one of their men in the middle, IU sophomore Trevor Swartz. He injured his face in the Big Ten semifinal against Wisconsin and hasn’t played since. It's unclear whether or not he'll make an appearance Sunday.
Either way, IU's seniors will be locked in. This could be the last game they ever play in Bloomington, and they want to make it count.
“We’re going to take one game at a time and we’re going to keep going,” McConnell said. “We’re going to go to the Final Four. We’re going to get there, go to Houston, get a ring. We want to stay together as long as possible.”
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