The wait is finally over for IU men's soccer and its fans.
This past May, IU’s coaching staff welcomed in one of the most accomplished recruiting classes in program history. And while the much-hyped freshman class has continued to exceed expectations thus far, IU’s upperclassman newcomers have been largely quiet.
That is until senior midfielder Joris Ahlinvi made his long-awaited season debut Sunday afternoon against Penn State.
Following three seasons at Florida International University, the two-time First Team All-Conference USA selection decided to take his talents to Bloomington this year for his final season of eligibility.
However, a lower-body injury since the start of training camp kept Ahlinvi sidelined for IU’s first nine games of the season and forced IU head coach Todd Yeagley to utilize a largely inexperienced starting lineup.
But after a nearly three month rehab stint, Ahlinvi’s name was finally inserted into IU’s starting lineup.
Ahlinvi wasted no time making a statement to IU fans as he put the Hoosiers ahead early with a difficult header in the 16th minute for his first goal of the season.
The Frenchman continued his offensive onslaught the rest of the game, tallying four shots while aiding in the Hoosiers quality ball movement all match.
Though just his first match, Ahlinvi has already begun to showcase why Yeagley was so excited for his impending arrival dating back to his announcement in May.
With a lineup that often sees anywhere from three to six freshmen on the field at any given time, the insertion of Ahlinvi’s prowess and experience into the starting lineup will likely pay major dividends.
Especially late into the thick of the conference schedule, and once the race for postseason spots intensifies, IU’s freshman class will certainly need veterans to look up to for guidance.
For IU to continue its winning ways, Ahlinvi will not only need to remain a high-production player, but also a player who can get the most out of his teammates.
Intangibles aside, Ahlinvi’s offensive arsenal is one that makes the Hoosiers offensive attack even more feared. Having tallied 16 goals, nine assists and 41 points in his time at FIU, Ahlinvi knows what it takes to create scoring opportunities.
Playing alongside IU freshman midfielder Aidan Morris and IU junior midfielder Spencer Glass, the Hoosiers wealth of playmakers on the front line only increases with Ahlinvi.
Assuming Ahlnivi’s transition into IU’s rotation goes off seamlessly, which after the Penn State match looks to already be on the right track, then Yeagley’s toolbox of players at his disposal becomes even more plentiful.
If Sunday afternoon’s showing in State College, Pennsylvania, was any indication, the Hoosiers, with a healthy Ahlinvi, could very well have put the entire nation on notice as they have their sights set on another deep postseason run once again.
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