Indiana Daily Student

Young soccer squad gets rough welcome

Defending champs falter at season's start

This weekend's adidas/IU Credit Union Classic turned out to be anything but classic, with the men's soccer squad dropping their first two decisions of the season. \n With the Hoosiers off to their worst start since dropping their opening two games in the 1992 season, there is obviously cause for concern, right? Well don't press the panic button just yet, my friends.\nAfter Friday night's opener, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Portland Pilots, there was plenty to worry about. The normally rock solid defense practically gave Portland two goals. The offense continued to have finishing woes. The normally aggressive Hoosiers were physically manhandled by the (overly) aggressive Pilots. And it didn't help that Portland's Olympian Conor Casey caught his flight for Sydney after this weekend rather than before.\nAnd if that wasn't bad enough, the Hoosiers' next foe, the UCLA Bruins, were supposed to be as good as, if not better, than Portland. The Bruins were coming off a 5-0 victory in what looked like a glorified scrimmage against Butler Friday, and that was without a suspended McKinley Tennyson Jr., meaning he would be well-rested for Saturday's grudge match. But what worried IU coach Jerry Yeagley the most after Friday's loss was his team, not the impending battle with the Bruins.\n"I didn\'t think we got after the ball hard enough," said Yeagley. "We played young. And we played immature, and we didn\'t play IU defense. And we didn\'t have the hunger and the fight. Nor the pride that goes with wearing the IU big red."\nEven though the Hoosiers lost Saturday night's clash 2-1, they come away from the game knowing they were better than when the weekend started. After another slow start, the Hoosiers finally got into the match and did an admirable job of sticking in the game right until the final whistle, playing good-old-fashioned aggressive Hoosier soccer. While said aggressiveness didn't pay off against Portland, it was much more difficult for the Bruins to handle. The Hoosiers' offensive was relentless, the defense stuck like glue to the UCLA attackers and play was dictated almost entirely by IU. \n"I thought we certainly played well enough to win. They\'re a good team, so performance-wise, I don\'t always judge it by the score," Yeagley said.\nAnd yet, even after the impressive second half showing against UCLA, the Hoosiers find themselves in unfamiliar territory: 0-2. And with a road trip to College Park, Md. this weekend to face two more highly-ranked opponents, the Virginia Cavaliers and host Maryland Terrapins, some might think the forecast calls for more pain for IU. \nWhile some fans will demand the success of the previous few seasons, those people must realize this is a Hoosier squad that will go through some growing pains. No one understands this fact more than Yeagley. He also knows that crunch-time for his squad is now. \n"I was pleased with a lot of things, but we certainly can\'t get to the point of IU soccer with weak performances and expect to win," Yeagley said after Saturday's loss. "Playing a good game but not winning doesn\'t make it. They've got to learn that."\nThe Hoosiers are learning a lot early on this season. While the results haven't been there as far as the final score, the team is gelling together more and more with each game, and as last year's slow start showed, it's not how you start, but how you finish. So I urge you to stay optimistic about this season, because as The Beatles said, "It's getting better all the time"

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