The last time No. 8 IU men’s soccer team vowed revenge against No. 22 Maryland, the team was shut out 3-0 at College Park. IU’s regular season conference unbeaten streak of four years disintegrated.
“We would have played whoever, but we’re definitely chomping at the bit to play Maryland again for that rematch, especially in College Park,” junior defender A.J. Palazzolo said. “They’re going to have a big crowd, and we’re pumped.”
College Park, Maryland, will be the setting for the Big Ten semifinal matchup between the Hoosiers and the Terrapins on Friday. Whoever wins takes on the victor of No. 13 Penn State and Michigan on Sunday for the conference championship.
On the heels of its 2-0 win over Ohio State, IU brings an aggressive offense against an opponent that shut it down in the previous match. Maryland enters Friday after breaking a two-game losing skid with a 1-0 win over Northwestern.
Here are two factors that will contribute heavily to Friday’s semifinal game at Ludwig Field.
IU needs to maintain a level head.
Last week’s battle between the Buckeyes and Hoosiers showcased 90 minutes of physicality that required many on the Hoosier roster to maintain level heads.
“That says a lot and shows the discipline of our team, and I’m really happy about that,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said.
Friday’s matchup between IU and Maryland will not only be physical, but it will also be an emotional experience for players like Palazzolo.
“We need to stay disciplined, but we still need to have fight,” Palazzolo said. “Last game we didn’t really fight as much, and we need to have a lot of grit because we know it’s going to be another physical test, and we’ll be ready for it.”
In the previous game between these teams Oct. 18, the programs combined for 18 fouls, one of the lower foul totals in an IU game this season. Despite the lower total, the physicality will likely be higher than normal with a conference championship match on the line.
Injuries could threaten the Hoosiers.
Senior defender Simon Waever was a late scratch from the Ohio State game due to a groin injury. Additionally, senior midfielder Joris Ahlinvi was also sidelined with an injury.
Waever’s ability to push the ball along the right sideline opens up several options for the Hoosier offense. He facilitates passing plays near the midfield line, sends crosses into the box and draws defenders to free up his teammates.
Ahlinvi’s time on the field also diversifies the Hoosiers’ play style. Although he has missed a majority of the season, the senior transfer provides an offensive spark to the team.
Junior forward Ian Black was on crutches during Wednesday’s practice and will miss the tournament due to a lower-body stress fracture. His goals early in the season helped get his team to where it stands at this stage of the season.
Freshman forward Victor Bezerra sat out the second half against the Buckeyes nursing a hamstring injury. The freshman could have played if needed, but the coaching staff wanted to take precautionary measures.
Despite these injuries, Yeagley said all of these athletes, outside of Black, will be available for the game. How much time they get is to be determined.
“We’ve been two of the more consistent programs in history; numbers don’t lie on that,” Yeagley said. “To be able to go the distance, to win a title, you’ve got to be able to win these types of games and have a big thing on the line.”
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