IU men’s soccer coach Todd Yeagley couldn’t bear it anymore. With two minutes left in the second overtime period against the University of Notre Dame, Yeagley, with his hands clasped over his head, retreated away from his coaching staff and sat down on the bench.
For the 24th time on Tuesday night, Yeagley looked on as his team failed to put the ball in the back of the net again.
“To generate 25 shots against a good Notre Dame team is a positive,” Yeagley said. “But it’s a bit disappointing in the locker room because you feel like you did enough to win the game.”
The offensive frustrations for the Hoosiers haven’t been simply a case of bad luck, either. Whether it was Tuesday night’s match that saw IU net just one of its 25 shot attempts, or its previous match against Seattle University which included six second-half shots that weren’t scored, IU’s offensive woes stood in the way of its fourth win.
“We expect to win every game,” IU junior defender A.J. Palazzolo said. “And when we dominate in shots like that, it’s tough coming out of here without a win.”
It’s not a coincidence that the Hoosiers have played in five straight overtime games to open their season. Too many squandered goal-scoring opportunities provided opposing teams the chance to keep games within reach, even with IU dominating much of them.
However, the late-game offensive drama can either be viewed as a negative that might hinder IU for the rest of the season, or it can be seen as a positive building block that will only get better with time.
“To me, it’s all about the performance and improvements we’re making,” Yeagley said.
With a team bereft of much of its offensive playmakers from last year, it was clear the Hoosiers would have to turn elsewhere for production this season.
Even with IU freshmen forwards Herbert Endeley and Joshua Penn leading the frontline, experience is something that can’t be taught.
Fans and critics alike knew there would likely be growing pains offensively to begin the season, but with five games now under its belt, and Big Ten play right around the corner, IU benefited greatly from the extra minutes played, even with all the missed shots.
“Every situation they get is real, it’s not a training exercise,” Yeagley said.
With any inexperienced team, the volume of shots that IU is taking is bound to lead to a scoring outburst at some point.
Perhaps No. 4 IU’s tie with No. 16 Notre Dame can be chalked up as two good teams playing a fundamentally sound match, or maybe it’s a precursor of what’s to come.
Whichever direction IU’s offense goes might very well determine the direction of its season.
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