For the first 30 minutes of IU’s match against Santa Clara on Saturday night, the Hoosiers looked as if they were struggling to follow up Tuesday night’s win against Notre Dame.
Sloppy passes and shaky defensive challenges were plentiful to start the game, and the Broncos of Santa Clara looked as if they were going to break IU’s four-game clean sheet streak. Due to the presence and solidity of the Hoosier defense, though, the Broncos weren’t able to break through, and IU's offense eventually hit its stride in a 5-0 shutout win for the Hoosiers.
A fire was sparked for the Hoosiers after senior defender Grant Lillard opened up the game in the 31st minute with a point-blank finish for his first goal of the season.
“It took us a little to find our rhythm,” Lillard said. “Before I scored, we were starting to get some shots off and press a little higher. We were really starting to control the game and then some things bounced our way, which gave us an opportunity to open up the game and take it from there.”
Even though it was a slow start for the Hoosiers, IU Coach Todd Yeagley said he thought his team still controlled the game even though they weren’t able to break Santa Clara down early on.
“They played a little differently than we thought, and they were giving us space behind,” Yeagley said. “We just weren’t able to take advantage of that at first. Once we were able to find our high player in the channel and play them underneath, we were able to open things up.”
After Lillard began the scoring for IU, three more IU goals ensued in just nine minutes. Freshman attacker Griffin Dorsey broke free down the wing just minutes later and aired a ball over a defender to freshman striker Mason Toye. Toye volleyed the ball in stride, beating the keeper at his near post for IU’s second goal of the game.
Two more goals followed Toye’s, and both came within 25 seconds of each other. Junior defender Andrew Gutman got on the scoresheet for the Hoosiers with his fourth goal of the season. He played a one-two with junior midfielder Austin Panchot in a play where the latter flicked a ball with a back heel into the six-yard box, where Gutman finished from close range.
Junior attacker Cory Thomas got in on the action as well after he scissored a ball between his legs to set himself up for a finessed shot into the bottom left corner.
IU continued to dominate the rest of the match, which was capped by a goal from Dorsey. It was the second goal of the season for Dorsey, who said IU’s defense makes it easier for its attackers to open up play and score bunches of goals at a time.
“If we don’t have that strong of a defense back there then we can’t take as many shot opportunities,” Dorsey said. “The confidence grows the more we score, so we just tried to keep that going tonight and we should’ve had a couple more goals.”
Yeagley said his team is riding on a lot of confidence and is continuing to build momentum as the season goes on. He said they play with a gritty style of fun, which adds another element to all the players’ game.
“We have some really interesting personalities,” Yeagley said. “There’s some pretty funny guys in our locker room that make me laugh a little bit. I like to have a good laugh. They stay focused when they need to, and they play with grit while also having a blast at the same time.”
Saturday's dominating win was overshadowed by an injury to junior midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr, who was taken out of the game and into the locker room after taking a knock to his right knee. He was carted off the field but came back to the sidelines later in the game on crutches.
“The trainers want to make sure to run some tests on him to see what’s going on,” Yeagley said. “We’re crossing our fingers to hope that he’s fine, and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
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