It’s a four-hour-and-47-minute flight from Bradenton, Florida, to South Bend, Indiana.
After being called to participate with the USA U-20 national team, sophomore midfielder Griffin Dorsey was over 1,000 miles away from his team.
The No. 2 Hoosiers took care of Virginia Commonwealth University easily in the first match without Dorsey, but there was a much tougher challenge in front of them.
IU was getting set to take on No. 8 Notre Dame in the third top 10 clash away from Bill Armstrong Stadium this season.
While the Hoosiers were preparing for the Fighting Irish, Dorsey was a part of the starting lineup in the U.S. Soccer U-20 Men’s Invitational. USA defeated both Jamaica and Venezuela but lost to the U-19 USA team as part of the round robin tournament.
“It kind of numbs you down a little bit,” Dorsey said. “It brings you back down to Earth because how great some of the players are your age, and it really motivates you to work harder.”
On Sept. 9, after the loss to the U-19 team, Dorsey skipped the final match against Venezuela and instead boarded a direct flight just eight hours later the following day. Dorsey landed in South Bend and spent 24 hours with his team before the in-state battle.
Despite starting in each match that he’s ever appeared in, IU Coach Todd Yeagley had a different way to ease him back in for his third match in five days.
Dorsey came off the bench for the first time and played 50 minutes against Notre Dame. He didn’t register a shot, but his presence on the field was enough to help IU take the 2-1 victory in overtime.
“Sometimes the very beginning of the game can be a little fast and helter-skelter, so we saved him for when the game calmed a little bit,” Yeagley said.
After an impressive freshman campaign, it was easy to see why Dorsey was called up to be a part of the national team.
Last season, Dorsey was named Second Team All-Big Ten after scoring three goals on 50 shots and picking up six assists. Fellow freshman and roommate last season, Mason Toye, garnered most of the national attention after leading IU in goals, but Dorsey mentioned how Toye taught him to be more mature.
Now, Dorsey has taken a bigger spotlight for the Hoosiers.
Already through seven matches, Dorsey has a pair of goals and had the first IU goal of the season in the loss to No. 5 Wake Forest. His goal against No. 22 Dartmouth showcased how he’s grown after only one season.
With about 21 minutes remaining, Dorsey made a run behind the line of defense. With a swift left-footed kick, senior defender Andrew Gutman sent the ball in between two Dartmouth defenders, leaving just Dorsey and the goalie.
The ball landed perfectly at Dorsey’s feet, allowing him to slow down and take one dribble to set himself up for the shot. After his touch, the Dartmouth keeper came charging toward Dorsey, but it was too late.
Dorsey planted his left foot and perfectly placed the ball past the sliding goalie and into the candy-striped net.
“His dribbling ability to beat players is great but now as defenders slide we are starting to see plays higher and seeing where he can be more dangerous making runs off the ball instead of always being on the ball doing stuff,” Yeagley said. “It’s been a nice progression.”
Another reason why Dorsey has been so successful already this season is the depth of the IU midfield. It’s not unusual to see a different starting lineup each night depending on the opponent.
Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Dorsey produces the same pressure on the opposing team's defense.
“I think we all have the same role, and we don’t put too much pressure on each other because we know if one isn’t performing at a certain time then we can always count on each other,” Dorsey said. “Everyone plays a similar role whether you start or not.”
After losing the first game of the season, IU has now continued to prove time and time again why another trip to the College Cup is possible. This team may be loaded with talent and depth but Dorsey will play a major role in if the Hoosiers can secure that ninth star.
“The more we get out of him, the better we will be as a group,” Yeagley said. “He’s got a bigger margin to gain in three months, and we want to try and capture some of that."