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Three things to know before men's soccer plays VCU



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Senior Austin Panchot, center, defends the ball against two UConn players Friday at Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU defeated the Huskies 1-0, and will play VCU at home this Friday.  Buy Photos

After facing four ranked teams to start the 2018-19 season, the No. 4 Hoosiers will go against their first unranked team in Virginia Commonwealth University Friday night.

Here are three things to know before IU takes on the Rams.

Containment

Junior midfielder Siad Haji leads the way for VCU.

On Monday afternoon, he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week and earned Top Drawer Soccer’s Men’s Team of the Week honors after scoring back-to-back game-winning goals against Temple and Santa Clara.

He leads the Rams with two goals, five points and 10 shots through three games. Last season, Haji led the Rams with eight assists, which ranked second in the Atlantic 10.

In the past two games, IU was able to shut down the best strikers on both Dartmouth and UConn. The Hoosiers will have another tough challenge trying to contain Haji, who will look to not only score, but set his teammates up as well. 

Streaking

After losing 2-0 to Georgia Southern to begin the season, VCU has shutout three-straight opponents. In those three games, the Rams have outscored their opponents 4-0 and have outshot them 44-30.

VCU has played two different goalkeepers in that stretch with sophomore Mario Sequiera and senior Joseph Rice, but Sequira should see the start against IU due to his 10 saves on the season.

Also, in two out of three games, VCU failed to score in the first period. Against Radford, VCU scored all three goals in the second period. Against Santa Clara, Haji scored a golden goal — a goal that automatically ends the game after being scored — in overtime. 

IU also lost its first game of the season and has shut out three consecutive teams since then. If the Hoosiers are able to capitalize with first half goals like they have in the past two games, things will become much more difficult for the Rams.

Playing without Dorsey

Things will look a little different for the Hoosiers once kickoff comes around.

IU will be without sophomore midfielder Griffin Dorsey for the next two games after being called up to participate with the U-20 USA team. Dorsey and senior defender Andrew Gutman are tied with two goals scored to lead the team.

Despite losing that scoring presence, IU should be plenty equipped to sustain that blow against the Rams.

IU has a plethora of midfielders to choose from to replace Dorsey in the starting lineup. Seniors Trevor Swartz or Cory Thomas will likely be called up to start in place of Dorsey due to both having experience in that position and already seeing plenty of playing time each match. Sophomore Spencer Glass is an option as well. 

IU Coach Todd Yeagley said after the game against UConn that he has the luxury of putting Glass, who's dominantly left-footed, on the left side, and moving Thomas over to the right side because Thomas is just as effective on either side. 

No matter the option, the depth of IU will prove pivotal while Dorsey is absent. 

The match starts at 8 p.m., following the women's match against Kentucky at 5 p.m. 

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