In its quest for a ninth NCAA College Cup championship, IU begins its 47th season at home with the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Armed with an almost entirely new starting lineup, No. 2 IU will attempt to usher in a new era as it welcomes the University of Pittsburgh to Bloomington on Friday night, followed by a Sunday night clash with the University of California, Los Angeles.
Here are three things to look for this weekend as the Hoosiers get set to open their regular season.
Spencer Glass’ Playmaking Ability
The junior midfielder said his goal in 2019 is to surpass double-digit assists. That shouldn’t be a problem, though, as Glass, one of three IU captains this season, has already shown he’s more than capable of carrying a larger load.
Little else showcased Glass’ tantalizing playmaking abilities more than in IU’s final pre-season match against DePaul University in which he rifled a perfectly-timed pass to junior defender A.J. Palazzolo that would eventually find the back of the net for a goal.
“I’ve been ready since Maryland,” Glass said. “This year is about building on the little things and having that mentality every day.”
If Glass can take the next step in his development this upcoming season, the Hoosiers’ offense could once again reign supreme in the Big Ten.
Adjusting to the Growing Pains
During an 11-on-11 scrimmage at the end of Wednesday afternoon’s practice, multiple IU players could be overheard shouting and teasing one another following multiple miscommunications that led to turnovers and poorly played balls.
Such is the life of a program welcoming in 14 new recruits after losing much of its on-field leadership from last year.
After practice, sophomore defender Jack Maher and Glass both said they’re still trying to figure out the strengths of the recruiting class while also factoring in the play-style of returning veterans.
There will likely be a handful of growing pains, especially early on in the season from the younger players, but if IU can mitigate the miscues, the sheer talent advantage should be enough to give IU an edge over Pittsburgh and UCLA.
Taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s youth and UCLA’s coaching change
Much like the state of IU’s roster, Pittsburgh enters the 2019 campaign with youth and inexperience scattered throughout its depth chart.
Though the Panthers are returning 14 players from last season's conference tournament-winning team, they’re also bringing in 12 new recruits from the 2019 class.
“They’re going to be technical, they’re going to bring some flair,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “So I think it’s going to be a challenge to slow them down and also be the aggressor.”
It remains to be seen how many of Pittsburgh’s newcomers will get significant minutes Friday night, but if IU can use Pittsburgh’s equal parts youth against themselves, a game-one victory should be within reach.
In his debut game at the helm of UCLA’s men’s soccer program, head coach Ryan Jorden, along with two new assistant coaches, will have the tough task of reshaping the team culture while also remaining competitive.
Adapting to a new coaching system has shown to often produce many ups and downs with many mistakes made along the way. IU’s ability to capitalize on UCLA’s turnovers could prove to be the deciding factor Sunday night.
“You can play some soft teams and get a false sense of where you are,” Yeagley said. “But in the big picture for us, that’s not going to help us. For us, it’s challenging ourselves from the get go.”