IU’s next game will be more than a must-win contest for an NCAA tournament berth.
This matchup will be a chance for two IU players to show two former teammates why seven stars sit atop the logos on their jerseys.
Just 73 miles from where they spent four years together at Carmel High School, junior midfielder Rich Balchan and redshirt sophomore midfielder Tyler McCarroll will take the field against Evansville’s Aaron Henkle and Robby Lynch.
IU will try to end its shut-out skid when it faces Evansville at Jerry Yeagley Field.
Although the Carmel alumni have played with their former teammates during the summer, a game situation is not the same.
“They’ll probably come out a little harder,” Balchan said.
Evansville will be fighting to break a seven-game losing streak to IU. Regardless, McCarroll and Balchan both agreed the game is somewhat about the bragging rights.
“Off the field, we’re friends,” Balchan said. “We’ll talk to each other, keep up with each other, wishing each other well on the field. This just provides extra motivation for me.”
Motivation is exactly what the struggling Hoosiers (7-7-1, 2-2) need. With three straight shutout losses, the Hoosiers are looking for a win and a confidence booster against Evansville.
Confidence, McCarroll said, is the missing component when it comes to IU gelling as a team.
“I think this season has taken a lot of confidence out of us,” McCarroll said. “We just need to focus on these next three games and get our confidence back before the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAAs.”
However, Balchan is still approaching this home contest like every other this season.
“Each game is the same,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure to get in the tournament, so we’re going to come out and play how we should.”
The Hoosiers want to stay above .500 in hopes of receiving an NCAA tournament bid, but this game could be season-changing.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us,” McCarroll said. “It’s a turning point in our season. We just got to focus on that game and that game only.”
IU, which has gone 277 minutes without a goal, is going against a team that has only allowed one goal or less in its last six contests. Because of the Hoosiers’ recent declining play, Balchan said IU is more concerned with the Cream and Crimson than the Purple Aces.
“We have to go in a game knowing that we’re going to score and also know that we’re going to keep the ball out of the net,” Balchan said. “I don’t think we have that confidence going into this game now. We’ve lost three straight, so we have to get our swagger back.”