Inexperience is not a word that parallels the way No. 5 IU men’s soccer’s freshmen play. Freshman forward Victor Bezerra proved that in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the University of Kentucky with a hat trick.
Bezerra became the team leader in goals and the third Hoosier in history to score three goals in an NCAA Tournament game. His hat trick was the first by a Hoosier in an NCAA Tournament game since 2012.
With the help of solid passing from his teammates, Bezerra converted all three opportunities to put the Hoosiers ahead.
In the 21st minute, freshman midfielder Aidan Morris poked the ball upfield to junior defender A.J. Palazzolo after splitting multiple Kentucky defenders.
Palazzolo bolted down the right sideline and laced the ball to Bezerra just inside the 18-yard box. Volleying the ball from his left to right foot, Bezerra slammed the ball through the right side of the goal.
The goal was his sixth of the season and would not be the last highlight from the freshman. He would strike again just 10 minutes later.
Morris kicked a pass to senior defender Simon Waever who crossed it into the goal box. Sneaking alongside Kentucky’s sophomore defender Nicolas Blassou, Bezerra tapped the ball with his right foot past the arms of sophomore goalkeeper Enrique Facusse and into the net.
As Bezerra made the sign of the cross and pointed his fingers to the sky, the crowd at Jerry Yeagley Field roared. IU’s players rallied around the freshman whose seventh goal of 2019 put IU ahead 2-0.
The Chicago native struck one more time in the 63rd minute.
Sophomore defender Joe Schmidt stole the ball and kicked it to midfield where Bezerra stood. As the freshman tore down the left side of the field, he had a decision to make as he approached the goal.
Bezerra reached the corner of the 18-yard box and fired the ball at the upper right corner of the net. Facusse leaped as high as he could but could not get a glove on the ball as it penetrated the back of the net.
Arms open wide, Bezerra winked at Schmidt as the two embraced over Bezerra’s eighth goal of the season. IU was up 3-0 and would not relinquish or score any more.
IU will play Sunday in Bloomington in the Sweet 16 against the winner of No. 12 Saint Mary’s College of California and the University of California, Santa Barbara.