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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

No. 1 IU men’s soccer to face Butler University in home opener

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After rallying to defeat the University of Notre Dame Friday, IU men’s soccer is returning for its home opener against Butler University 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

The team also returns with the No. 1 national ranking from TopDrawerSoccer after the first weekend of the season.

The Hoosiers are coming off of a 3-2 overtime win, but the game itself was not perfect. The offense struggled to get much past the Irish midfield, and the defense found itself scrambling after the tenacity of the Irish offense caught IU unaware. 

However, IU head coach Todd Yeagley said he thought it was a great result for the first game of the season.

“The best news is we didn’t play nearly to what I feel we can do,” he said. “Always at this time of the year, we’re not going to be hitting on all cylinders, certainly offensively.”

Yeagley said the game was a good learning moment for his team, and it gave them lots of opportunities to look over video and to fully prepare to face Butler.

Similar to the Hoosiers, the Bulldogs also saw their first game of the season against Oakland University go to overtime. After 110 minutes neither Butler nor Oakland scored a goal and the game ended 0-0. 

Butler put up 15 shots with three on goal. Defensively, Butler put on a good showing, allowing only 8 shots and one shot on goal. 

“Butler’s obviously a very good side,” Yeagley said. “They’re well coached and they have some really good individual players on the front half. They played a tough conference so they’re certainly ready, in the sense of competition.”

The Bulldogs also have plenty of veteran players with 10 out of 11 starters returning from last season. Junior forward Wilmer Cabrera, Jr. was voted to the 2021 All-BIG EAST First Team and had five shots against Oakland.

Yeagley said he knows the Bulldogs will be a tough opponent, but the Hoosiers are ready and excited to be playing in front of their fans.

On the field, questions have shifted focus to the health of All-American junior forward Victor Bezerra.

Bezerra went down early against the Fighting Irish with an apparent knee injury. He returned momentarily with a knee brace before exiting the game for good in the 56th minute. At the moment, Yeagley and his staff are treating the injury day to day. 

“Of course if he’s able to go we’re going to utilize him in some capacity, but we just don’t know,” he said.

While Bezerra is critical for the Hoosiers in the attack, Yeagley has no shortage of talent to draw from. Freshman forward Tommy Mihalic scored two goals against the Fighting Irish Friday. Freshman forward Samuel Sarver created paths to the goal, but Yeagley said they both can still play better.

Past matchups against Butler have been exciting and tense. Yeagley said scores have flipped late in games and there is even more competition among players due to the in-state rivalry of the two schools. 

IU is 23-5-4 all-time against Butler, but the team lost the most recent matchup 2-1 in 2019.

“They play hard, but they play fair and they get after it and I respect that,” Yeagley said. “Just excited to play a real fun game because they’ll open up and play, and they have some real creative players that will challenge our team. I think our fans will enjoy watching the game.”

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