No. 7 IU men’s soccer will look to expand its hot start when it faces Ohio State on Tuesday afternoon at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana. The Hoosiers won their season opener on Friday with a 3-0 shutout victory over Wisconsin.
Tuesday’s match offers an opportunity to clean up a few issues from Friday, despite the clean sheet. Here is what you should watch for when the Hoosiers and Buckeyes collide:
Once again, an indoor field at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, will be the site for IU due to snow in Columbus, Ohio.
A couple missed connections on usually pinpoint passes got things off to a relatively shaky start for the Hoosiers on Friday. First-game nerves might have been a factor, but the ball speed on the turf played a role as well.
“This is difficult for both teams,” head coach Todd Yeagley said after IU’s victory Friday. “Every turf plays different. Some of our initial passes that we were missing, I don’t see in Mellencamp or when we play at home.”
After competing on the same turf once, the team should find more success with lead-passes Tuesday. But in this unusual spring season with matches beginning in February, Yeagley acknowledged that the Hoosiers aren’t alone in those struggles.
“We’re not the only ones in this boat,” he said.
IU’s attack was impressive Friday for not competing as a unit in 13 months.
The team scored three goals to crack the Badgers’ defense. The first two scores were more right time, right place situations by sophomore forward Victor Bezerra, but the third was a clean finish from senior forward Thomas Warr off a great cross from sophomore defender Brett Bebej.
“If I had to say two guys that we could really get goals from today that would be really good for the group and them is Tom and Vic,” Yeagley said.
Although Warr’s goal might have looked smoother, Bezerra’s two strikes were equally effective. Both were strong kicks that gave Wisconsin goalkeeper Sven Kleinhans no chance to save them.
“Victor has been showing us throughout the fall and our training,” Yeagley said. “Two fantastic strikes.”
Warr and Bezerra are likely to score again, as is sophomore forward Ryan Wittenbrink who registered four shots Friday.
Ohio State will open its season when it visits Grand Park on Tuesday.
After finishing 1-6-1 in the Big Ten last year, the Buckeyes are attempting to build on past experiences. Junior forward Devyn Etling is their most dangerous player. The striker finished second on the team with 13 points last year.
A notable crossover between the two programs is Buckeye head coach Brian Maisonneuve. He was an assistant coach for the Hoosiers for eight seasons, guiding them to eight trips to the NCAA Tournament, including the 2012 College Cup Championship. He also was a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year when he was a player for the Hoosiers.
IU defeated Ohio State twice last season by scores of 5-1 and 2-0.