In the first half of Thursday’s matchup with Marquette in Cary, North Carolina, No. 3 IU seemed content with controlling possession in the backfield. The Marquette Golden Eagles never obliged to pressuring the Hoosiers’ back line and never surrendered any counterattacks.
Although the strategy kept Marquette off the scoreboard for a while, it made IU’s offense just a tad stagnant when it came to creating chances.
“We were a little bit slow when we got into our ‘let’s go’ phase,” head coach Todd Yeagley said after the match. “We didn’t have enough conviction of getting after them.”
IU rarely found a scoring chance and registered 0 first half shots on goal. Marquette’s defense, which held Loyola Marymount University to 0 goals over 110 minutes in its previous match, didn’t allow an IU shot on goal through 70 minutes.
The Hoosiers prompted a couple offensive opportunities in the first half, but weren’t sharp enough to finish them.
“We could have had a few more really good chances if our final passes were cleaner,” Yeagley said.
Once Golden Eagles sophomore forward A.J. Franklin boomed a 44th minute rocket past IU sophomore goalkeeper Roman Celentano, IU began to lock in. Increased Hoosier pressure shifted the momentum and instigated two goals from sophomore forwards Herbert Endeley and Maoloune Goumballe.
The two tallies were the difference as IU beat Marquette to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers are now one win away from advancing to their 21st College Cup – the most in men’s collegiate soccer.
Along with leadership from senior captain A.J. Palazzolo for firing the team up at halftime, he also believes that a couple tactical changes ignited the Hoosiers’ rally.
“The little tweak of Ben [Yeagley] in midfield with Joe [Schmidt], and moving A.J. up was the catalyst to get us going,” Yeagley said.
By shifting Palazzolo up the field, he was able to impact the offense more by reaching key headers and keeping possession.
The increased intensity also led to physical play from both ends. The referee gave out 11 yellow cards in the match – 10 of which came in the second half.
With such high stakes and no overly egregious plays, the abundance of fouls should come as no surprise.
“There’s a lot on the line and both teams were fighting for a lot,” Yeagley said.
IU will face the winner of No. 6 Seton Hall University and Virginia Tech University at 5 p.m. on Monday in Cary, North Carolina, with a College Cup berth on the line. Seton Hall also defeated Marquette 4-1 on April 15 to clinch the Big East Tournament title.
In its last three games, IU has won two in penalty kicks and one after trailing at halftime. With the significance of each match increasing as the Hoosiers advance further, Yeagley recognizes the importance of the victory.
“That’s a big game,” Yeagley said. “We were able to overcome it and that says a lot.”