WESTFIELD, Ind. — The wind was howling.
To start the match, IU had it at its back. In the second half, it was directly in their faces. During penalty kicks, the net of the goal wouldn’t stay still because of it. Every goal kick, corner kick, free kick and pass was affected.
The wind brought a cold chill to the air and in the end, the Wisconsin Badgers brought a cold end to the Big Ten Tournament for IU, after regulation and extra time ended in a 1-1 draw.
“The wind at your back was pretty strong,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “Balls can tend to tail a little bit and get away from us, and I thought we were able to get a little bit more possession. The balls were checking up in the wind, and we were able to gain some good possession going over the top.”
The aerial presence was a key factor for the Hoosiers. The big body of IU junior Rashad Hyacenth has been a factor as of late, and he got a bit more time on the field over the past two weeks and was critical against the Badgers. The Belmont transfer entered the match with under 28 minutes to play and the match changed from then on.
It was Hyacenth and IU freshman A.J. Palazzolo that created an aerial attack up front for the Hoosiers. His duty on the pitch is to hold the ball up for other players like IU senior Tanner Thompson.
Friday, Hyacenth got his name on the score sheet with IU’s equalizer in the 79th minute. Although, he also missed the final penalty. The aerial presence didn’t necessarily help with the equalizer, but it gave IU a chance to keep fighting in extra time and penalties.
“Rashad has done well the last two, three weeks in training and he’s kept after it and has continued to work on his finishing,” Yeagley said. “He’s a big presence, has been able to hold the ball up for us, especially while the wind was at us. He’d hold it up and get position and bring other guys in the game.”
It was another game where IU had the chances but just couldn’t put the finishing touches on them. The Hoosiers outshot the Badgers 29-6. They had eight corners to Wisconsin’s zero.
The balls being sent into the box by IU senior Phil Fives and sophomore Austin Panchot were dangerous all afternoon long. Even battling the wind, Hyacenth and Palazzolo were keys to the IU offensive game plan in the air.
“They gave us a lot of size,” Thompson said. “They did really well when they came on for us. They help win some aerial balls and we can get some second balls off of them. That was the game plan putting them on, I thought they did a good job.”
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