Indiana fell 2-1 to Drake on a late goal in the final three minutes of Thursday night’s exhibition game in Ft. Wayne at the National Soccer Festival.
The loss ended a nine-game preseason-winning streak for the Hoosiers that dated back to 2004.
After jumping ahead 1-0 on a goal from sophomore forward Will Bruin in the 28th minute, the Hoosiers gave up two unanswered, including the winning shot by Drake’s Julien Edwards in a scramble in front of IU’s net.
“When you play a good opponent, which Drake is, you get answers to questions about your team,” IU coach Mike Freitag said. “We found out what we need to do better, and what we do well.”
A key aspect to finding out what needs improvement is finding final lineups, a trial-and-error process that began Thursday and will continue Saturday against DePaul.
Twenty-two of IU’s 27 roster players saw action Thursday.
“At practice we’ve been working extremely hard,” senior defender Ofori Sarkodie said. “This team has a lot of personality, so when we play against each other, there are a lot of battles.
“We are just working on technique and communication. Our communication and getting ready for this next stage is really important.”
Despite falling late to the Bulldogs, Freitag looked to the bigger picture.
“It was nice to get so many players on the field,” he said. “I look forward to working with this team. It could be one of the best at IU.”
Work is yet to be done, however, in order to reach that status.
Since the Hoosiers last National Championship in 2004, they went 8-0-1 in preseason play. That ended Thursday.
Sarkodie was less worried about the streak, but more about the loss.
An opportunity to even exhibition action in Fort Wayne comes at 8 p.m. Saturday against DePaul.
“I don’t think you worry so much about the streaks but you def worry about a loss,” he said. “That’s the competitive edge IU has had, and it determines how you manage your business. You don’t want to put too much weight on it, but we want to use it to see where we’re at as a team. We’ve made mistakes and learned from them.”