After a 1-0 win against Xavier University at home Monday night, No. 9 ranked Indiana men’s soccer team looks to continue its success on the road against No. 16 ranked University of Akron. The Zips are the first ranked opponent the Hoosiers will face this season and the game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“That’s going to be one heck of a task,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said in a press conference Monday. “They’re well coached and they’re very good in what they do well.”
Akron has scored 14 goals in four games to start the season and are showing a strategy largely focused on keeping possession. The Zips have scored more than one goal in every game they have played so far, putting together a 4-0-0 record.
Four Zips have scored two goals each, including senior midfielder Diogo Pacheco.
After Akron’s 2-1 upset win against No. 3 Pittsburgh, Pacheco won the Men’s National Soccer Team of the Week award by both College Soccer News and TopDrawerSoccer. He leads his team in goals, assists, points and game-winning goals.
The Zips have given up three goals total to their opponents but only allowed 32 shots with 11 on goal. Senior goalkeeper Will Meyer has eight saves.
Since Indiana is very good at defensive pressing against opponents, Yeagley said he anticipates play will be similar to Indiana’s previous match against Xavier, calling the game a chess match.
Indiana’s backline took solid control of the game Monday, slowing the pace of play and controlling the ball to prevent Xavier from building momentum.
Freshman forward Samuel Sarver was instrumental in Indiana’s press against Xavier, scoring the lone goal in the 1-0 win and putting up three of the team’s five shots. Junior forward Victor Bezerra returned after a two-game absence with an injury and made important passes to help the Hoosier offense.
Indiana and Akron haven’t played each other since 2016, meaning no current players have played against each other. The Hoosiers have a 25-7-2 all-time record against the Zips.
“Our team hasn’t played there — none of our guys have,” Yeagley said. “That will be new and different, and yet we have a lot of guys in the Midwest that are familiar with their players, so they’re excited for the challenge.”
Yeagley said he expects the crowd in Akron to be very similar to Indiana’s fanbase in Bloomington — a packed stadium with a spirited student body.
“We want our guys to feel that and play in it,” Yeagley said. “We can’t be intimidated by those away environments.”