IU men’s soccer coach Mike Freitag is happy not to be dining with his family on Thanksgiving.
Every Thanksgiving away from the family means Freitag’s team is still alive in its quest for the NCAA title, the eighth in program history.
This year the team will dine on turkey, stuffing and all the other essential Thanksgiving foods at the Tudor Room in the IMU thanks to a 2-0 victory against Saint Louis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Tuesday night. The meal will come after a morning practice/walkthrough preparing for the team’s third round opponent, Michigan.
Soccer and turkey – there is no other way Freitag would rather spend his Thanksgiving.
“I’ve had more turkey dinners with the team than I have my family,” Freitag said. “That’s the way we want to keep it.”
The Hoosiers had an overall strong performance from the entire line-up, but the play of junior defender Kevin Alston stood out from the rest of his teammates.
With the Hoosiers leading 1-0 in the second half, Alston scored a header goal off a corner kick to seal the game for the Hoosiers.
“There was one where they left me open, but on the next one they had a man on me,” Alston said. “The ball was played on the spot and it was just me and him.”
In the process, the defender earned praised from his coach.
“He flew in on that play,” Freitag said. "He exploded. He was good, he was like diving into the end zone on that one.”
Minutes later Alston slid in front of a Saint Louis shot to keep the Billikens off the scoreboard.
It was another solid performance this season for Alston, who was named first team All-Big Ten this season. The Silver Spring, Md. native was all over the field Tuesday night making dangerous runs into Saint Louis territory while holding down the Hoosier defense.
The win sets up a rubber match with conference rival Michigan, who defeated the Hoosiers at Armstrong stadium earlier this season. The Wolverines are going to challenge the Hoosiers with a trio of talented forwards.
“They are a talented team up front,” Freitag said. “They have three players up top that are as good as anyone in the country. These three guys can do things offensively. We will have to be good defensively.”
While eating turkey and all the trimmings with his team on Thursday, Freitag will sit there confident this group of players can return the Hoosiers to the College Cup if they play their best.
“They know now is the time to come together and focus,” Freitag. “This is our time right now.”