IU men’s soccer earned the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year and is now preparing for what head coach Todd Yeagley called IU’s “third season.”
After the Big Ten regular season and the Big Ten tournament, the Hoosiers will be coming off a two-week break heading into its first matchup.
As the No. 3 seed, IU earned a first-round bye and will face the winner of Thursday’s matchup between Milwaukee University and St. Francis College.
IU prepares for NCAA Tournament
Yeagley said the coaching staff has split up to study the team’s potential second-round matchups and note the tendencies for both.
The players won’t see the film until after IU finds out who it is playing.
“There’s no reason to be thinking about two opponents,” Yeagley said. “Our focus is on us, and we’ll start introducing our opponent to them on Friday.
Yeagley said some of what they show the players will come from the first-round matchup on Thursday, but IU already has enough information from games this season to prepare the team.
The Hoosiers will be bubbled in Cary, North Carolina, for the duration of the tournament, but their lockdown is a little more lenient than the one for basketball’s March Madness.
The team will only travel together as a bubble but will be allowed to leave the hotel, Yeagley said.
“Everything we do is an inherent risk if you’re not smart, and we’ll be really intelligent,” Yeagley said.
New look defense
IU will be without freshman defender Joey Maher in its first matchup of the tournament after Maher picked up a red card in the Big Ten Tournament championship against Penn State.
Per the NCAA rules, a red card elicits an ejection from the game and a one-game suspension.
Maher has started in all 11 of IU’s games this season. He was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team earlier this year.
Yeagley said the team is still looking at options for Maher’s spot. Freshman defender Lawson Redmon filled in at the end of the Big Ten Tournament championship.
Without senior defender Spencer Glass, who IU lost for the season with a broken leg suffered against Michigan in March, the Hoosiers will be without half of their normal defensive lineup.
Glass has been around the team as a leader during his rehab, Yeagley said.
“It’s easy to do a ‘woe me, why me, senior year I already dealt with COVID,’” Yeagley said. “Seniors can be disenchanted already, let alone have a broken leg and be watching from the sidelines.”
Instead, Yeagley said Glass is working to give players pointers and keeping other seniors locked in.
“Spencer’s a weapon,” Yeagley said. “That service and his experience, you can’t replace. Whoever you put there is different than Spencer, but you have to be ready to figure it out.”
Spring seasons may be more normal
As IU wraps up its first spring season, Yeagley said he’s hopeful that the season’s success will help push forward the split season for NCAA soccer, starting in the fall and ending around June.
Yeagley has been one of the coaches backing a rules proposal that would split up the Division I men’s soccer season to start in the fall and extend through the spring.
The proposal is led by Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski and is intended to replicate the long seasons in professional soccer, decrease injury for players and increase attendance at the College Cup, which would take place in warmer weather than it currently does in December.
The spring portion of the schedule would begin in March to avoid February weather.
“It’s not broken, yet, like anything, be open to positive change,” Yeagley said.
The proposal vote was pushed back due to the pandemic and is now scheduled to be voted on next April.