IU men’s soccer’s return to Bill Armstrong Stadium ended in a 1-0 victory against Butler, but the beginning closely resembled that of IU’s offense-heavy matchup against the University of Notre Dame on Friday.
Butler dominated possession, marking two shots on goal even before the five minute mark. The Hoosier defense had little control over the ball, letting multiple balls through for junior goalie Roman Celentano to save.
The Bulldogs continued to control all areas of play until the Hoosiers’ first two shots in the 25th minute from junior forward Maouloune Goumballe. From that point on, IU’s offense came to life, and the Hoosiers had eight more shots than the Bulldogs.
“I thought we dealt with some [problems] pretty well,” Yeagley said. “Our ability to use some players in some different roles tonight, I think we were able to kind of weather the storm a little bit.”
The Hoosiers racked up shots as they increased the pressure on the Bulldog defense, leading up to a goal in the 29th minute. Senior defender Spencer Glass took a free kick that went through multiple kicks, headers and rebounds off the post before it fell to sophomore defender Joey Maher. Maher seized it, rocketing the ball into the bottom right of the goal.
“Joey plays so much older,” Yeagley said. “He’s mature. I thought his decisions on his functional clearing, when to use the right kind of club to do well, was really good tonight.”
Going into halftime, Butler’s last shot was in the 22nd minute. The lack of offensive production in the remainder of the half paved the way for IU to put up a total of seven shots.
Maher said in a post-game press conference he thought players like freshman midfielder Patrick McDonald and junior defender Brett Bebej were key in challenging the Bulldogs.
Junior forward Victor Bezerra, redshirt junior forward Ryan Wittenbrink and redshirt senior midfielder Joe Schmidt were not listed in the starting XI and did not appear in the match, but Yeagley said he could see all three returning in the upcoming weekend matches.
The Hoosiers kept the momentum entering the second half, keeping the Bulldogs from getting close to the goal. Instead, IU continued to attack the Butler defense. Goumballe notched his third shot in the 49th minute.
In the 67th minute, the crowd was left on edge after a free kick from Butler turned into a replay review. An initial deflection that led to the ball rolling right onto the goal line before sophomore defender Lawson Redmon cleared it.
The VAR review upheld the initial call of a team save by IU, and despite some last-minute attempts from the Bulldogs, the game finished 1-0.
“It was a good performance. I thought the back line was very solid,” Maher said. “I’m very fortunate to be playing next to those guys.”
Tommy Mihalic, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, led the way for the Hoosier offense with five of 15 shots, and Goumballe followed with four, including two shots on goal. Goumballe was a force on the field, testing the Butler defense with quick passes and tricky footwork down the field.
The Bulldogs were held to seven shots and three shots on goal in the 90 minute game. The only two Hoosier saves came from the first five minutes of play.
“A lot of little good moments,” Yeagley said. “But we’re going to learn a lot from this game. This is a game that we did get exposed to some things, and these are the games you need.”