A constant drizzle, a muddy soccer ball and a slippery pitch were the conditions that awaited the No. 1 team in the country on Wednesday night. IU was pitted against a Big Ten opponent, No. 18 Michigan, in its second game of conference play.
The Hoosiers were forced to adapt to not only thier opposition, but also to the chilly and wet conditions.
“It was a tough night with the environment,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “The field was super wet, which made the game sloppy at times.”
The first indication of Wednesday’s conditions came early in the game when sophomore defender Jordan Kleyn went down with an injury that forced him to leave the game. The incident happened after Kleyn challenged a Michigan attacker, went down and had to be assisted off the pitch by the IU training staff.
Yeagley said the team didn’t have an update on Kleyn’s status, but he said he hopes that his starting right back won’t be out for an extended period of time.
“We hope Jordan is okay,” Yeagley said. “He was hurting when he came off the pitch, and it was a groin injury that he suffered.”
Junior defender Rece Buckmaster started the game at midfield for IU, but once Kleyn went down, the team moved Buckmaster to right back, where he played last season.
“I think Jordan and Rece are almost the same player pace-wise,” junior defender Andrew Gutman said. “Rece did a good job defending their winger. Obviously, Jordan’s a good defender, and it was a tough loss, but hopefully he can recover soon to get back out there.”
The Hoosiers opened up the scoring in the 12th minute via a goal by Gutman. The left back finished after two shots from freshman attackers Thomas Warr and Griffin Dorsey. Michigan’s sophomore goalkeeper, Andrew Verdi, parried the second shot to his left, and Gutman followed with a shot of his own that reached the net.
Gutman said he credits the work he put into his finishing during the offseason to his recent success in front of the goal. He leads the team with three goals on the season after scoring once last year.
The field conditions made it hard for players to keep control of the ball, and it was evident as it seemed as though the ball was going everywhere in the 16-yard box. Michigan struggled to clear the ball on the play, which led to the IU goal.
The constant drizzle of rain affected IU’s passing due to the ball's being slipperiness, which made it harder for the Hoosiers to get constant movement around the pitch.
Yeagley said the wet conditions changed the game at times and it hindered IU's ability to exploit Michigan’s defense.
“They played a high line early on, and we just couldn’t get behind it," Yeagley said. "Every time we played a ball over the top, it would find its way to the keeper or out of play. It jammed the field a little bit, and passing was difficult at times to find some rhythm.”
Even though the Hoosiers couldn’t put away some of their chances, Yeagley said he thought they were the more dangerous team. He credited the Michigan attack, which caused some trouble for IU’s fullbacks.
The Wolverines’ equalizer came in the 51st minute after freshman midfielder Umar Farouk Osman beat Gutman down the wing and sent in a dangerous cross. Osman’s effort was headed into the back of the net by junior midfielder Robbie Mertz, and Michigan’s effort managed to silence the crowd for a decent period of time.
Michigan put six shots on target, the most freshman goalkeeper Trey Muse has seen in a single game all season long. Muse said even though it was the most action he’s seen since starting for IU, he wasn’t fazed.
“It was no different,” Muse said. “I’ve been working hard in training, and I’m not surprised I’ve been seeing more shots come my way, and the coaching staff gets me ready for it.”
IU now stands in fifth place at 0-0-2 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers will play at Northwestern on Sunday, which comes in at 1-4, and 0-1 in the Big Ten.
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