Indiana Daily Student

Hoosiers brace for must-win against Buckeyes

Sophomore midfielder Rich Balchan is held by Louisville's Brent Rosendall while moving the ball upfield during the Hoosiers 1-0 win over the Cardinals Wednesday night a Bill Armstrong Sadium.
Sophomore midfielder Rich Balchan is held by Louisville's Brent Rosendall while moving the ball upfield during the Hoosiers 1-0 win over the Cardinals Wednesday night a Bill Armstrong Sadium.

With two consecutive wins against top-15 teams, the IU men’s soccer team hopes to continue the momentum when it travels to Ohio State in a critical conference battle Sunday afternoon.

The Hoosiers (8-4-2) will face the Buckeyes at noon in Columbus, Ohio.

IU sophomore forward/midfielder Andy Adlard said the second half against Louisville on Thursday night showed the potential the team has.

“It was tough at first to adjust to how they were shaping up with their formation,” he said. “At halftime, we realized a couple tactics we needed to change, and it worked out well in the end.”

A major component to the recent winning mentality has been stepped-up play by the defense. In the past four games, IU has only given up three goals, including two shutouts.

Senior goalkeeper Chay Cain said he is proud of the way the defense has been playing as of late.

“The one thing you can do defensively is talk, and I think we did that well (against Louisville),” he said. “We realized that guys are going to make mistakes. The big difference is that everybody is now committed to covering for everybody else.”

For IU coach Mike Freitag, the victories could not have come at a better time in the season.

“We have been more focused and made better decisions on the ball,” he said. “It takes a while for a team to really start to get to know each other. At this point in the season, we should be starting to run on all cylinders, and we are.”

The recent victories against then-No. 9 Notre Dame and then-No. 14 Louisville were monumental for IU. Three of the team’s next four games – including a matchup with No. 2 Northwestern – are against Big Ten opponents. And with a lackluster 1-2 record in the conference and a ranking of fifth out of seven teams, the remaining regular season games are must-wins for the Hoosiers.

“Big Ten games are always tough,” IU coach Mike Freitag said. “There is that rivalry between teams that heightens the game a little bit. The main thing is you want to win every game.”

The Buckeyes are 9-4-2 on the season and reached the national championship game last year.

Ohio State also has a deep history with IU, including last year’s Big Ten Championship where the Buckeyes took the conference crow from IU on penalty kicks.

“Last year they had our number, so we would like to get a little revenge for that,” Freitag said. “They will be a similar team in some ways but maybe not as seasoned or mature as their team last year.”

Freitag said his team is right where he wants them to be.

“We want to keep building momentum,” he said. “We want to be peaking at the right time. If we play to our potential and do things right on both sides of the ball, I think it will take a very good team to beat us.”

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