Only five games remain before the Big Ten tournament, but the No. 22 Hoosiers aren’t about to look ahead.
Coming off a 3-1 upset win against then-No. 9 Notre Dame, IU (7-4-2) wants to build off its victory going into the match against No. 14 Louisville (9-3-2) at 7:30 p.m. today.
Sophomore forward Andy Adlard said a key component to the win was a good week of practice preceding the match. Leading up to the Notre Dame game, every Hoosier showed up motivated and prepared, Adlard said.
“Some days some people come out and just go through the motions because they had a tough day at school,” he said. “Everyone just got on the same page now. We’re working hard.”
Adlard said the team has been continuing to work on set pieces, a defensive weak point. The Fighting Irish had seven corner kicks but were unable to capitalize. IU coach Mike Freitag also credited the Hoosiers for decreasing their mental mistakes as of late.
“Guys have been very, very focused,” Freitag said. “The effort’s been very, very good. A lot of it is focus on just the little things. This group has done most things pretty well. (We’ve) just slipped in some minor things.”
Throughout the season, the coach has maintained that IU has not played well for a complete game. Senior midfielder Brad Ring said last Thursday’s match broke that trend.
“It’s just getting everyone on the same page, playing consistently, playing a full 90 minutes,” Ring said. “I think Notre Dame was our first pretty complete game, except for their one goal.”
Despite its new surge of confidence and a rising ranking, Freitag said the team will retain its concentration against the Cardinals, who are on a two-game losing streak.
“I don’t think this team is going to get complacent,” Freitag said. “I think they know four losses is too much for us. They’re making sure we take care of every game that comes up.”
The game also marked the Hoosiers’ return as an offensive power. Before last Thursday’s match, the Hoosiers had not scored three goals since Sept. 30, when they defeated Evansville 3-2 in overtime. Ring said the team wants to keep the high- scoring going.
“We have the qualities to score a lot of goals, and that’s something we want to get back to,” Ring said.
Injuries could hamper the Hoosiers’ offensive effort Wednesday. Ring broke his hand in practice last month and re-broke it against Evansville. He competed against Notre Dame and will play this week.
Sophomore defender/midfielder Rich Balchan broke his nose against the Fighting Irish.
Freitag said Balchan is questionable for Wednesday’s match.
As the season winds down, Ring is confident the team can capitalize on last week’s victory, “If everyone’s there with the purpose of getting better every day,” Ring said, “we’re going to continue to grow as a team as the season continues.”