The NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament has arrived in Bloomington, as No. 2 IU will battle with No. 25 Old Dominion at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
One week after losing in the Big Ten Tournament Championship match against Wisconsin in penalty kicks, the Hoosiers are set to face the Monarchs, following Old Dominion's 2-0 drubbing of NC State in the NCAA Tournament First Round.
“The group did a good job of putting last week behind us, and getting ready for what we like to call the ‘third season’,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “The good news is that we looked back at our performance at what we did, and the positive is that this team is getting better as this season progresses.”
The Monarchs are riding high on a five-game winning streak, sealing the Conference USA title in the process. Their two leading goal-scorers, junior forward Max Wilschrey and freshman midfielder Brandon Perdue, scored both goals in the shutout victory against NC State.
Old Dominion will face its toughest defense of the season though, with the Hoosiers posting 16 shutouts this season. Yeagley said his defense maintaining its consistency will be a key for IU throughout postseason play.
“Anytime to make any type of run in the postseason, you need a good defense,” Yeagley said. “We’ve always had a strong, steady defense, and it’s proved to be one of the more special groups amongst our years. They know it’s going to be tough to create chances against us.”
On the other end of the spectrum, IU’s leading goal scorer, freshman attacker Mason Toye, will lead the charge on Sunday. Toye is currently on a four-game scoreless drought, but he said the goals will come for the team, whether it be from him or his teammates.
“It’s going to come,” Toye said. “The goals are going to come, and it took us a while to score against Penn State, and then the next game we put four on Ohio State, so we want to stay patient and confident.”
Yeagley said he isn’t worried about IU’s goal-scoring struggles late in the season, and he said the performance against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament adds to the feeling that his team was unlucky with some chances.
“We create chances, and we say we need to be better in front of goal, so we’ve been training like crazy for that,” Yeagley said. “I know the guys are confident about that, and we didn’t really catch any breaks either. There were multiple times where we didn’t get a bounce or two to go our way, and it just didn’t go our way on Sunday.”
Yeagley said that he feels like his teams play better in the postseason. He said he expects his team to be at its best, especially after a heart-breaking loss against Wisconsin.
They’re going to be super excited," Yeagley said. "I want them to keep composed and not get tight when game day gets here.”
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