Indiana Daily Student

IU tries to get back on track at Michigan

A rough patch in the No. 14 IU men’s soccer season will get rockier Saturday when the Hoosiers hit the road once again to face Big Ten foe Michigan and try to snap a two-game losing skid.

“We have a hill to climb now,” sophomore forward Alec Purdie said. “We may have to win the Big Ten to get in now and I think we’ve ignited a fire that we should have had from day one. It’s sad to say, but sometimes you can take good things from losses. Hopefully we can kick it into gear now.”

The Hoosiers, 5-4-1 (1-0), come off Wednesday night’s disappointing home upset against Butler and a 3-0 shelling at then-No. 11 UC-Santa Barbara.
Saturday’s contest is IU’s first Big Ten match since defeating Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., Sept. 25 when IU won 1-0.

Having lost two straight and one against a non-ranked regional team, IU coach Mike Freitag emphasized the importance of Saturday’s game.

“Big game,” he said. “Big Ten is going to be very important for us. We are going to have to do well in the Big Ten. When you’re only a game above .500 or so, you’ve got to start winning some games. Going on the road to Michigan with a team that’s scoring some goals, it’s going to be a big task.”

Beyond the midway point of the season, that task holds a lot of weight.

If they come away with a third straight loss Saturday, the Hoosiers face being .500 at this point in the season for the first time this decade and unranked for the first time all year.

“I don’t think the (ranking) number has anything to do with it,” Purdie said. “Numbers don’t mean anything unless you produce. Unfortunately, to this point, we’ve had a few losses that we haven’t played all that bad in but we’ve been on the wrong end of, so those are the games we need to make sure the result is a win, especially the Big Ten games.”

This season’s start is the Hoosiers’ worst since 2003 when IU posted a 5-3-3 record in its first 11 games. The Hoosiers went on to win the NCAA Championship that year.

Senior forward Darren Yeagle said the issue that most urgently needs to be remedied is to be mentally tough rather than play better physically.

“Whenever we get scored on, I don’t know why, but we always put our heads down,” he said referencing IU’s double-overtime letdown against Butler after giving up a late goal. “We just have to correct it.”

Freitag said that in order to fix the big picture, hard work and attention to detail could right the ship. He said the process begins at Michigan.

“You have to go back and work,” he said. “Hold each other accountable, be positive, hold yourself to high standards ever day and do all the little things right.”

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