Nearly one-third of the way through its season, the No. 13 IU men’s soccer team welcomes No. 20 Kentucky today for IU’s first home game since Sept. 6.
“It’s always nice to be at home,” IU coach Mike Freitag said. “You’re sleeping in your own bed, you have the nice surface of Yeagley Field, and hopefully we want to put on a show for our fans.”
The last show Hoosier fans saw at Bill Armstrong Stadium was a 2-1 loss to then-No. 3 Wake Forest. IU has since gone 4-1 on the team’s longest road trip of the year, only losing to No. 1 Akron.
IU’s record now stands at 4-2-1 with a perfect Big Ten slate.
“Kentucky has always been good,” junior midfielder Dan Kelly said. “Their coach (Ian Collins) is a pretty fiery guy. He’ll get them pumped up. They all have soccer knowledge and are aggressive.”
Kentucky’s aggression has led to a 7-1 start. The Wildcats’ only loss came to Marshall in a 1-0 double overtime contest.
“Kentucky is a team that everyone I talk to says good, positive things about,” Freitag said. “They’re physical, and they get after it. We are going to have to match their intensity and fight and hopefully play some good soccer.”
In the past, the Hoosiers have had no problem matching Kentucky’s intensity. The series history tilts heavily in IU’s favor with the Hoosiers’ 20-1-2 overall record against the Wildcats.
As of late, however, things have been more even, as two of the last four meetings have resulted in a tie, including last year’s 1-1 final.
At this point in the season, Kelly said IU is making strides in its potential but is still not quite there.
“I don’t know if we’re still trying to find ourselves, but we’re a tight-knit group,” Kelly said. “Our team is pretty close.”
“I don’t think we’re close to playing to our potential yet,” he said. “We’ve got some great pieces to the puzzle, but I don’t think we’ve put the puzzle together correctly to make the best picture yet. We’ll keep working on it.”