Losing regular season Big Ten games isn’t something No. 4 IU men's soccer has a wealth of experience with.
In fact, it’s been almost four years to the day since the Hoosiers last suffered a regular season conference loss.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Sean Caulfield and redshirt senior defender Jordan Kleyn are the only players on IU’s roster that experienced IU’s last league defeat on Oct. 10, 2015, against Ohio State.
That streak was extended Sunday afternoon as the Hoosiers defended home turf, downing the Wolverines 1-0 and continuing their reign atop the Big Ten.
“I’m aware we have a good run,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “That’s when I start looking at it, at the end of the year and go 'OK what did this team do? What was unique about it?' and kind of reflect on it.”
Since Yeagley took the job as IU’s head coach in 2009. He’s always been outspoken about not worrying about streaks or records.
With a program so rich in its history and success, it’s difficult not to look back on the past four years of IU’s greatness, but it’s also not something Yeagley finds himself dwelling on.
“In the middle of it, you’re just so kind of in the zone of what you’re doing that the streak’s irrelevant in a sense,” Yeagley said. “But it’s a great thing for the program, and I think everyone who has played here is proud of some of those numbers.”
It’s no secret the Hoosiers are perennial contenders for a Big Ten title and national championship each year. In order to achieve those high standards, however, it takes a certain group of level-headed players with a common focus.
While streaks are great and can do wonders for a program, it’s often the teams that are able to keep a tunnel vision on the next opponent rather than looking too far ahead that find the most success.
This is especially true in the Big Ten, a conference notorious for being one of the toughest in the country year in and year out. The battle for Big Ten supremacy is almost never an easy one, and the difference between three points for a victory and zero points for a loss is substantial, something IU understands better than most.
“There’s no easy Big Ten game,” IU sophomore defender Jack Maher said. “There’s no easy circumstance, doesn’t matter who you’re playing. Every single Big Ten game you have to take it as a championship game.”
Each year the Hoosiers usually have one of the toughest strength of schedules in the nation, and this year is no different.
Playing tough nonconference opponents affords IU the opportunity to experience Big Ten-level play before the conference schedule gets going. It’s why the Hoosiers have been able to go on such a remarkable streak, even if the streak is rarely something that’s talked about in the locker room.
“We’re not winning the next one to get a streak,” Yeagley said. “These guys just want to win the next one for points, and that’s all they care about.”
In a conference where points mean everything, the Hoosiers keep finding ways to handle their business and get the job done.
Regardless of why they play or what they play for, if IU continues on its current trajectory, its streak and reign over the Big Ten shows no signs of slowing down soon.
“Day in, day out, understand that Big Ten games lead to titles,” Maher said. “And get us to our three goals, which are Big Ten regular season, Big Ten tourney, and National Championship.”
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