Following a 3-0 road win against Notre Dame, the No. 23 IU men’s soccer team looks to carry its momentum back into the conference schedule.
The Hoosiers (7-4-1, 2-0-0) play defending Big Ten champion Michigan State (6-4-1, 0-3-0) at 2 p.m. Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
“I liked the way we defended throughout the game against Notre Dame,” IU coach Mike Freitag said. “Notre Dame has had a couple of games this year against good opponents. They can score goals, and we really didn’t give them a sniff.”
Freitag said the victory at Notre Dame showed IU’s growth as a team.
“It’s taken us a while to settle in with personnel and system this season,” Freitag said. “I’m feeling pretty confident that the guys now feel comfortable with the system we’re playing in and also with the players that are on the field – the chemistry’s coming together.”
Forward sophomore Will Bruin and junior midfielder Andy Adlard have paced the Hoosiers offensively this season with six and four goals, respectively, but senior forward Darren Yeagle shined against Notre Dame, notching his second goal of 2009 and three shots-on-goal.
Freitag pointed to Yeagle as another player upon which the team can depend regularly.
“Darren’s played outstanding,” Freitag said. “He got a goal against Notre Dame, but he’s just been a threat every time he gets the ball. He’s been making good things happen for us, offensively.”
The Spartans have endured a rocky start to their conference title defense. Last in the Big Ten following a 2-1 loss to Wisconsin, Michigan State faces a crucial contest when the team comes to Bloomington on Sunday.
The Spartans have excelled defensively in 2009, allowing the fewest goals of any team in the Big Ten with seven. They also trail only No. 24 Penn State in shutouts.
Freitag said his team should expect nothing short of a strong effort from the defending conference champions.
“They’re coming in as the wounded Spartans,” Freitag said. “They’re not happy with their results up to now. I’m sure they’re looking for their first Big Ten win of the season, and being the defending Big Ten champs, they know what it’s all about. And they’re going to come pumped up, and looking for their win.
“We just have to be good and focused like we were at Notre Dame. That’s how you’ve got to come out in every game. There are no easy games in college soccer anymore.”