Back-to-back golden goal victories to open No. 2 IU men's soccer season have given it momentum and swagger as the second week of matches quickly approaches.
The Hoosiers have little time to ease up, though, as they travel to South Bend, Indiana, to take on the University of Denver at 4 p.m. Friday night before returning at 4 p.m. Sunday to clash with Seattle University.
Here are three things to know as IU looks to remain undefeated.
Both Seattle and Denver received Top-25 votes this week
IU head coach Todd Yeagley and the rest of the coaching staff have never shied away from creating the toughest regular season schedules possible, and the 2019 season is no exception.
After facing tough tests in the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California at Los Angeles last weekend, IU now must dig deeper as it prepares for Seattle and Denver.
Denver began the season on a shaky note as it lost to the University of Washington 2-1 last Friday night, followed by a scoreless tie with Seattle on Monday.
Seattle, meanwhile, fared far better as it ran through the University of San Francisco on opening night in a 5-0 rout, before proceeding to tie with Denver.
Both teams are heavily regarded within the NCAA landscape as they both received votes in the United Soccer Coaches rankings, with Denver receiving the second-most votes and Seattle receiving the fifth-most votes among unranked teams this week.
IU has little experience facing either opponent
Prior to this weekend’s matchup, the Hoosiers have only faced the Pioneers and Redhawks one time each in program history.
IU’s first and only meeting with Denver came on Sept. 11, 2011, in South Bend as IU came out victorious 2-1.
Meanwhile, the last time IU played Seattle was on Sept. 13, 2009, which also took place in South Bend, with IU shutting out Seattle 2-0.
The lack of experience against either team means the Hoosiers won’t have the benefit of building as thorough of a scouting report as they otherwise would.
Experience could give Seattle and Denver an edge
Both the Pioneers and Redhawks have been selected as the No. 1 team in each of their preseason conference polls.
Though Seattle fell short of winning the Western Athletic Conference crown in 2018, it returns three players who were named to the All-WAC Preseason list. Chief among them, senior midfielder Julian Avila-Good could give IU problems as he looks to improve upon his 2018 All-WAC Second Team campaign in which he notched three goals and four assists.
Ranked No. 18 in week one prior to falling out of the rankings, Denver trotted out an opening weekend starting lineup consisting of all sophomores and juniors, while only two freshmen saw any playing time.
Led by 2018 Summit League goalkeeper of the year Will Palmquist, the Pioneers do most of their damage on the defensive side of the ball, not allowing for any easy goal-scoring chances for opponents.
The experience factor gives the Summit League-favorites a notable advantage over an IU squad that relies heavily on its newcomers and could ultimately be the deciding factor Friday night.
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