There were plenty of chances — 28 shots, in fact — throughout the 110 minutes of play for No. 3 IU, but not one found the back of the net.
The Hoosiers were probing the backline of the Northwestern Wildcats, but ultimately the quality chances weren’t there for IU. There were shouts for penalties, shots fired well over the bar and everything in between. When it came down to it, it wasn’t a day for goals to be scored.
It was the first start for Northwestern freshman goalkeeper Robbie White. White made six saves that kept his team in the match and came up big for the Wildcats all afternoon. Northwestern packed the box tight, but the Hoosiers’ finishing wasn’t sharp enough, IU Coach Todd Yeagley said.
“A lot of ill-advised shots, off-balance wrong foot, wrong distance, and we can do much better,” Yeagley said. “We’ll put a lot more detail into the final decision, final shot because it’s got to be better against a team that certainly absorbed a lot today.”
IU’s leading scorer, senior Richard Ballard, finished with two shots in 78 minutes. The moment that could have changed the whole game came in the 14th minute.
The Hoosiers were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the area that easily could have been called a penalty. It didn’t go their way. Regardless, Ballard said the Hoosiers had enough quality chances.
“I think you had your fair share of everything today,” Ballard said. “We had 28 shots, and a lot of them were quality opportunities. We just blasted them way over the goal, and a lot of those definitely should have been put away.”
IU needed to get quality chances in the match, and that is why IU sophomore midfielder Rees Wedderburn played 55 minutes. He put the Hoosiers in good situations with crosses into the box to go along with four shots, and that is what the home team needed.
Wedderburn hasn’t gotten many opportunities this season, but he had a positive influence on the match Sunday. Yeagley needed attacking options, so he turned to one of his best.
“He’s one of our best finishers,” Yeagley said. “With the chances we were going to get we needed some sophistication and some finishing, and Weddy is one of our best finishers, and that’s why he was on as much as he was, and he had a good game.”
It wasn’t just Wedderburn that Yeagley was turning to off the bench. Sophomore midfielder Austin Panchot played a few minutes at the end along with freshman Ian Black. Everyone was anticipating a goal that never came for the whole match.
The issue was the execution in the final third in a packed 18-yard box.
“I didn’t like some of our shot decisions, and I thought our crosses were off,” Yeagley said. “We have to be dangerous in the box, and I thought maybe we tried to hit the perfect ball and over-hit it.”
Senior midfielder Tanner Thompson was doing well in the midfield and finished with six shots, but there wasn’t a player for IU who took control to score a goal.