The Hoosiers have drawn seven times, posted 10 clean sheets and gone 4-1-2 against teams in the RPI top 25.
Now they find themselves in a position to make a run in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 7 overall seed.
IU now will get ready to face the Akron Zips on Sunday in Bloomington in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. IU Coach Todd Yeagley said he doesn’t know a whole lot about his opposition.
“Akron, we’ve played them in the past,” Yeagley said. “They play a possession-oriented style, they get numbers forward, and they build through the different phases through the game.”
Akron earned a 2-0 win against Villanova on Thursday to punch its ticket to the second round.
The last time the Hoosiers played the Zips was in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2013 in Akron, Ohio. The Zips came away with a 3-2 win. The only current player to have played in that game was IU goalkeeper Colin Webb. Both teams came into the season with high expectations.
The Zips started the season in the top 10 but have since fallen out of the rankings altogether. If there is anything to relate the two sides, it is that IU senior Phil Fives spent two seasons in Akron playing for the Zips.
“I’m super excited,” Fives said on the chance to play his former team. “They’re a great program — a lot of good talent there. We were actually talking before the selection that it might end up like this. This is a great opportunity to show the nation what we got and step up.”
A season ago in the NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers were the No. 16 overall seed. They were able to beat Connecticut in the second round at home but suffered a loss at Wake Forest in the third round.
Both of those matches were 1-0 score lines. There have not been many goals scored this year, either, and the Hoosiers are used to being in many low-scoring games with their stout defense.
For the most part, the Hoosiers should avoid opponents they have already played throughout the season. Maryland, Notre Dame, Stanford and Louisville are all on the other side of the bracket.
No. 15-seed Butler could see the Hoosiers later on in the tournament but Butler would have to upset No. 2-seed Wake Forest first. Yeagley said it’s a good thing to be able to match up against potential new opponents.
“We know that it’s a one-game tournament,” Yeagley said. “You look at the other part of the bracket and see where we could have been. We’re confident against those teams, but it is a different challenge. Having played those games in my years, it’s hard to play a team a second or third time. It’s just hard, so it’s a good thing.”
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