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Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's soccer

Wisconsin game a must-win for Hoosiers


Six days after taking down conference-leading Penn State, the fourth-seeded IU men’s soccer team seeks a second win this season against fifth-seeded Wisconsin as it kicks off the Big Ten Tournament at 12:30 p.m. today at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

“That first tackle has got to be tough,” sophomore forward Will Bruin said. “Tell them that it’s not going to be easy to come in here and take us down in the postseason.”

Bruin scored the game’s lone goal in the Hoosier’s 1-0 win over Wisconsin on Sept. 25 in Madison, Wisc. IU has since gone 2-3 in Big Ten play.

The Hoosiers, 9-8-1 (3-3), have the sixth-toughest RPI, or strength of schedule, in the nation according to the NCAA. But with a record so close to .500, a win versus the Badgers, 7-8-2 (3-3), is virtually a necessity.

“I still feel like there is a lot of pressure,” senior forward Darren Yeagle said. “Preseason we were No. 1 in the Big Ten, so we’ve got to win the Big Ten.”

Before finishing the regular season by taking down No. 25 Penn State, IU had lost four of its last five games, a statistic that could go against IU if an NCAA Tournament bid hinges on a decision by a selection committee.  

Due to its recent struggles, the team said it aims to win the tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament rather than depending on the committee’s choosing.

“Every game we play now could be our last,” Bruin said. “It’s a must-win.”

IU coach Mike Freitag said Wisconsin, who is lead by former IU assistant coach and player Todd Yeagley, is dangerous because it is desperate.

“They’re a team that has to win,” Freitag said. “They’re in a situation where they’re below .500 and the only way they can get in the tournament is to win. Any time your back is against the wall, it’s always a dangerous opponent.”

Sophomore defender Tommy Meyer, who started all 18 games during the regular season, will miss today’s game due to a red card he picked up during the second half of Friday’s win against Penn State. It was the Hoosiers’ second red card and one-game suspension of the year.

Despite this, Freitag said he is still confident.

“We plan on playing on Friday and we plan on playing on Sunday,” he said.

The Hoosiers are 13-3-2 all-time in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, but face a large task ahead. Today’s winner has a date with first-seeded Ohio State, who has a bye. The Hoosiers fell to the Buckeyes at 1-0 on Nov. 1, while Wisconsin beat them 2-0 the week before.

Despite the challenging road to a Big Ten Championship, Bruin said hosting the tournament is critical for IU’s success.

“It’s not for certain we are going to get into the post-season tournament,” he said. “But if we can take care of business in these next three games at home, then we will put ourselves in pretty good position for the NCAAs.”

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