It’s time for the IU men’s soccer team to live up to its potential.
After opening the Big Ten campaign with an exciting 3-2 overtime win against Wisconsin, the Hoosiers dropped two of three games before getting back on track with a 2-0 victory against Butler on Tuesday night.
Soccer can be a fickle game because no matter how dominant a team is, unless that team can finish its scoring opportunities, the opponent will always be one goal away from pulling an upset.
For the Hoosiers, it’s been the type of season where good play has not always translated to wins.
The latest example was the team’s 1-0 loss to Michigan on Saturday night, the first loss to the Wolverines in program history.
IU out-shot Michigan 20-9 last Saturday, but an early goal by the Wolverines was enough to clinch the upset.
The Michigan game was just another in a line of disappointments this season for IU coach Mike Freitag and the Hoosiers.
Missed shots and mental lapses on the defensive end have cost IU victories and have started to frustrate the players.
“We’ve been using the word ‘potential’ all season,” senior captain Brad Ring told the IDS after the loss to Michigan. “But we’re past halfway through the season.
“It’s time to turn that potential into something. We’ve got to start finding a way to get these wins.”
The Hoosiers got a win last night against Butler without Ring, who served a one-game suspension for accumulating five yellow cards.
The win was important for the players’ spirits, but there is still a lot of work to do this season.
IU heads into this weekend’s visit to Michigan State with four remaining Big Ten games this season, including three road games.
The Hoosiers are currently in a tie for fourth in the seven-team Big Ten conference, one game behind first-place Northwestern.
It’s not time to panic, but the team needs to play with a sense of urgency.
If the players live up to their potential, the Hoosiers should win their next three Big Ten games, setting up a game against Northwestern for a piece of, or an outright conference championship.
Throw in non-conference games against Louisville, Kentucky and an in-state showdown with always-tough Notre Dame, and the Hoosiers have plenty of chances to show how good the team can be.
Thankfully for Hoosier fans, Freitag has shown that he does not get caught up in the ebbs and flows of a season in his time as the program’s coach.
At times, his quotes might seem cliche, but the coach genuinely has the attitude that he wants his team to get better each day and the results will come.
For this year’s team, the most important thing could be chemistry. Mixing talented freshmen into an experienced lineup to find the best combination of players is key to any future success.
Ring is right – it’s time for the team to start living up to its potential.
With the talent, experience and leadership on the roster, it’s just a matter of time before things come together, hopefully before the team is out of contention in the Big Ten.