The growing pains of two scoreless ties and a 4-0 upset by unranked Dartmouth gone, the No. 19 Hoosiers sprung out of adolescence as they defeated No. 24 UCLA 3-0 and San Diego 2-1.
Last year IU upset the then-No. 1 Bruins 1-0 as part of the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. The trip to California – both games were played at UCLA’s Drake Stadium – redeemed IU and gave the team its first consecutive wins of the season.
The three goals against the Bruins came within seven minutes of each other, with senior forward Kevin Noschang leading the avalanche in 63rd minute.
“(IU coach Mike) Freitag said that losing to Dartmouth may have been the best thing to happen to us,” Noschang said. “We came out to California looking to change some things and really show the country that we’re a great team.”
The Hoosiers, now 3-1-2, left Bloomington early Thursday and shook off the jet lag before their Friday night game against the Bruins. It took until the second half for IU to reclaim the offensive production it had in its two exhibition games, when the team scored six goals.
“I can tell you we had a feeling (we were going to score),” Noschang said. “You could feel it if you were in the stadium, if you were on the field. Once we got (the first goal against UCLA), I think everybody knew it was time to play and win two games.”
Freshman forward Will Bruin put the Hoosiers 2-0 in the 66th minute, with junior midfielder Eric Alexander recording the assist. Alexander scored four minutes later.
The game cured the offensive drought that had been plaguing the team since its match against Duke.
Bruin scored against both teams for his first goal of the year. The former Missouri State Soccer Player of the Year said scoring his first collegiate goals came as a relief.
“It felt like a monkey off my back,” he said.
Unlike the sluggish start against UCLA, IU came prepared for the match against the Toreros. Feeling confident, Bruin opened up the scoring in the fourth minute after a corner kick from sophomore Andy Adlard.
Senior captain and unanimous All-Big Ten selection Brad Ring came out of the game in the sixth minute after possibly spraining his knee, Freitag said. Ring encouraged his teammates to keep going despite his absence.
“We just had to keep our heads up,” Bruin said. “We’re a very deep team, so anybody can step in.”
After freshman Tommy Meyer was called for a foul, San Diego tied up the game with a goal in the 14th minute from junior forward JT Howlan scoring off a penalty kick.
After senior Brian Ackley was fouled in the box, sophomore Andy Adlard scored off a penalty kick to give the Hoosiers the game-winning goal in the 75th minute.
“It showed the character of the team to come back (after losing to Dartmouth),” Freitag said. “A lot of teams would fold after a loss like that one.”
The team will return to IU on Sunday for its first home game in two weeks to begin conference play against Wisconsin.
“We’re excited to come back home and start Big Ten play,” Noschang said. “We’re going to bring all that confidence back to Yeagley field. We want to put on a show for the fans, and we haven’t done that.”