Men's soccer looks for first Big Ten win away from home

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Junior midfielder Austin Panchot fights for possession against Michigan Wednesday night at Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU drew No. 18 Michigan 1-1 to begin Big Ten play with a 0-0-2 record. Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

After two draws to start the Big Ten Conference schedule, IU will be looking for all three points Sunday.

The Hoosiers faced two of the top teams in the conference to start the Big Ten slate. 

IU battled then-No. 5 Maryland to a 0-0 draw on the road last Friday night, before drawing 1-1 with No. 18 Michigan at home Wednesday night in IU's first game as the No. 1 team in the country.

IU had to grind through two tough matches last year against the Northwestern Wildcats. This year, the Hoosiers are looking to claim their first conference win Sunday in Evanston, Illinois.

“I’m sure we’ll come up with something in film, but we’re just going to go out there and play,” junior defender Andrew Gutman said. “We have the players to go at them if they sit back. It’ll be a good game. Northwestern is not a team that’s just going to roll over. We’re going to prepare for the best.”

A season ago, the Hoosiers and Wildcats first met early in the regular season, playing to a 0-0 draw in Bloomington. The second meeting came in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, as IU won 1-0 in extra time.

In both matches Northwestern sat back and put a lot of players behind the ball, absorbing a lot of pressure from IU. That made it difficult for the Hoosiers to score goals. They scored just once in the two matches with 43 combined shots. This time around, IU Coach Todd Yeagley said he’s not sure if Northwestern will employ the same game plan as last year.

“You have to be able to break them down more in the wide areas and eventually get into a service opportunity or create some overloads in the wide areas and come inside for a finish,” Yeagley said. “It’s not going to be easy to get behind them. It’s going to be a ball in the six, a second ball, a second layer. I see a finish from 15, 18 out on a second ball when it comes out.”

Northwestern so far in 2017 has had its struggles. The Wildcats have scored just four goals in six matches, have just one win and will enter Sunday’s match on a five-game losing streak.

The match will be IU freshman goalkeeper Trey Muse's first look at the Big Ten. The freshman has already posted four clean sheets in six matches while averaging just 2.5 saves per game. It may seem like a low number, but that’s because he hasn’t needed to save that many shots on goal. 

“You have to know what to expect and going into every game, we’re not going to take it lightly,” Muse said. “I think preparation is still the same. We go after every point like it’s the last game. It’s different in its own way, but at the same time, it’s another game and we have to get after it."

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