Indiana men’s soccer has not lost two regular season games in a row since 2013. Coming off a loss to Creighton University, Indiana defeated Xavier University 1-0 Monday night to keep that statistic unchanged.
After a 3-0 loss at home to the Bluejays on Friday, the Hoosiers came into Monday’s match with more confidence in both the offense and defense. Xavier was held to seven shots with only two shots on goal, and freshman forward Samuel Sarver was the face of the aggressive Hoosier offense.
Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said the team was able to focus on tactics and strategy instead of getting energy up during halftime, and that the mood in the locker room was much more jovial than that of the previous post game meeting.
Junior forward Victor Bezerra returned to the pitch after sustaining a right knee injury in Indiana’s season opener against Notre Dame. While he did not record any shots, Yeagley said Bezerra was key in aiding the Hoosier’s offensive charges.
“He is absolutely unbelievable,” sophomore defender Joey Maher said. “It’s just great having him on the field, just huge.”
Indiana jumped to an early 1-0 lead as Sarver scored his first career goal in the 10th minute. The ball came to Sarver after a pass intended for Indiana junior forward Maouloune Goumballe was broken up. Goumballe then tripped up Xavier’s goalie, allowing Sarver to take advantage of the open goal.
Sarver’s shot came from outside the penalty box as a floater to the upper right corner of the goal, leaving Xavier’s graduate student goalkeeper Matthew Rosenburg no choice but to watch it go in.
Sarver continued to pressure the Xavier defense through the rest of the first half, leading almost every offensive charge down the field. Going into halftime, Sarver had two of Indiana’s four shots.
“He’s a dynamo,” Yeagley said. “He is tenacious, he loves moments, he wants big moments. He loves scoring.”
Indiana’s defense proved more efficient than in Friday’s match against Creighton, with the backline more secure in their efforts to control the pace of the game. Xavier put up five shots in the first half, led by junior forward Felix Boe-Tangen’s three, but had no shots on goal.
The Hoosiers dominated in all facets of the game in the second half, keeping the Musketeers from gaining any momentum for a comeback. The Hoosiers themselves also slowed their play, only recording one more off-target shot.
The Musketeers put up their first shot on goal in the 57th minute, courtesy of junior forward Karsen Henderlong, who got through multiple Hoosier defenders to line up for a clean shot on goal. His shot sailed directly into the arms of junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano, marking his first save of the game.
Xavier’s second and final shot on goal came in the 77th minute, again saved by Celentano. Indiana controlled play for the majority of the second half as the backline continued to slow game flow. Long passes were the main strategy for the Hoosiers, sending shots to attackers downfield to push past the Musketeer defense.
“It was much more of a methodical movement game, a bit of a chess game,” Yeagley said. “We could have been a little bit better, create some more chances, but our group did find the space pretty well.”
Despite a strong Hoosier offensive effort in the last 10 minutes of the game, no more goals were scored and the Hoosiers won 1-0. Sarver recorded three of Indiana’s five total shots and had both shots on goal.
“I love playing with him,” Maher said. “The amount of work he puts in is absolutely ridiculous. You can’t teach that. It’s just who he is.”
With the 1-0 win, Indiana hands Xavier its first loss of the season and extends its streak without back-to-back regular season losses. Indiana is set to face the University of Akron on Friday in Ohio.