Two ranked opponents in one week with a nine-hour flight in between is not what IU coach Mike Freitag wanted for his No. 9 team.
Seventy-four hours after their first win against a ranked opponent, the Hoosiers take the pitch to play No. 11 UC-Santa Barbara.
“For us to travel halfway across the country and go play a very talented team in a hostile environment is going to be a challenge to them,” Freitag said.
Regardless of rest time, IU is looking for revenge on a team that beat them 2-1 in Bloomington last season.
“I talked to Todd Yeagley from Wisconsin, who played both Akron preseason and Santa Barbara,” Freitag said. “He said there are a lot of similarities.”
While the result of the 1-0 loss to No. 1 Akron was not what the Hoosiers’ wanted in their record book, the team is known to feed off big crowds and high intensity situations.
“They have a really good atmosphere out there,” sophomore defender Tommy Meyer said. “I think it’s something like 15,000 fans and they’re all pretty rowdy, so it’s going to be a good atmosphere to thrive on.”
After IU scored three goals and freshman goalkeeper Luis Soffner earned the fourth shutout of his career on Tuesday, IU is now faced with a team that has allowed 11 goals and scored 20.
Freitag said the 3-0 result from IU’s win against No. 13 Kentucky will give the Hoosiers momentum going into California.
“I have a lot of good pieces to the puzzle, and I could put a hell of a lot of different lineups out there that’d be successful,” he said. “We want to find the best one, but also find players that if somebody goes down, other players can step in.”
A three-game winning streak shows that Freitag’s lineups know how to be successful.
Although UC-Santa Barbara comes in with a stronger record at 6-2-1, Meyer said the No. 11 Gauchos will be no different than any other opponents.
“We’ll have to be defensively strong the whole game, and we have to play some soccer,” he said. “We can’t just sit and defend the whole game. We have to score some goals while we’re out there.”
The matchup is the Hoosiers’ fifth against a ranked foe, ninth of the regular season and fourth road trip, but sophomore midfielder Tyler McCarroll said this long trek should have little bearing on the Hoosiers.
“It shouldn’t affect them because we’re going up a day early and we’ll have time to get rested and get a feel for the time change,” McCarroll said.
With solid performances from the defense and a gelling offense, this matchup is a crucial piece to the season’s puzzle.
“If we come out with a win from this game,” McCarroll said, “it could definitely set the tone for the rest of the season.”