The floodgates finally opened for the normally sluggish Hoosier offense Tuesday night, as No. 9 IU defeated No. 13 Kentucky 3-0 at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
“The team played great,” junior midfielder Andy Adlard said. “We had a lot of possession – knocking it around, moving them around. There were lots of gaps and opportunities. Luckily, they fell for me.”
Adlard, who came off the bench Tuesday because of the team’s poor play, scored two of IU’s three goals. Freshman midfielder Nick Blevins scored the Hoosiers’ other goal.
Adlard came in after junior midfielder Daniel Kelly went down with an injury.
“Andy has not been playing well, and he would probably be the first to admit it,” IU coach Mike Freitag said. “Sometimes splinters are a good motivator. Andy sat at the beginning of the game. I think the message got through to him, and I thought he had a great game tonight.”
Tuesday’s win was IU’s first home victory, but more importantly, the first win against a top-25 opponent.
IU’s record improves to 5-2-1 (1-0).
“I think the picture was a little better tonight,” Freitag said. “Not to say we played poorly in the other games, but a lot of it has to do with the players feeling confident about things and feeling good about themselves. This is their team.”
The coaching staff confirmed this by listening to players’ suggestions during practice sessions to change the lineup and formation around from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2, which means one defender replaces a midfielder.
“Playing four in the back can psychologically get you more confident,” Adlard said.
Adlard credited the offensive production to the formation change, which was initially used in Friday’s 1-0 win at Wisconsin.
For the first time this season, IU scored a goal in the first half.
The Hoosiers look to carry momentum into their cross-country trip to UC-Santa Barbara on Friday to face the No. 11 Gauchos.
IU knocked off UC-Santa Barbara on penalty kicks in a 1-1 game at the 2004 NCAA National Championship Game, which gave the Hoosiers their seventh national title.
For now, however, some players are happy with Tuesday’s effort.
Blevins put away his first career goal Tuesday and had a difficult time wiping the smile from his face for the rest of the night.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ve never felt anything like that,” he said. “I grew up dreaming to score for Indiana, and to get that first goal is cloud nine.”