Indiana men’s soccer will start the second half of its Big Ten schedule and its final of four-straight home matches with a game against Ohio State at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Indiana is 2-2 and Ohio State is 0-3 in Big Ten play, good for fifth and last in the conference standings, respectively.
After starting 3-2-1 this season, Indiana has won four of its last five matches and has outscored its opponents 14-3 over that stretch. After a 2-3-0 start at home, it has also won its last two matches at Bill Armstrong Stadium, including a 9-0 victory against Trine University on Saturday — its biggest win since 1997.
The Hoosiers hold a seven-match unbeaten streak against the Buckeyes, going 6-0-1 since 2015. The Hoosiers handled the Buckeyes last season with a 3-0 win.
“Obviously last year was a good result for us but it’s a new year — every game is going to be different,” senior defender Nyk Sessock said during a press conference Monday. “We’re at home, we’re at our house so we gotta take care of business, and that starts tomorrow. We gotta show the Big Ten what’s happening over here.”
Halfway through its eight-match Big Ten slate, Indiana sits dead-center of the nine-team conference with six points. With a win, Indiana would improve its record at home in Big Ten play this season, which is currently 0-2 with losses to seventh-place Rutgers and fourth-place Michigan.
Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said the math is starting to catch up with the team, and if it drops any more points, the chances of winning its fourth-straight regular-season title in the Big Ten would be grim considering how well the other top teams have played.
“It’s the halfway point — this kind of sets the stage of your next half of the Big Ten season,” Yeagley said. “Positive points in any regard would be a good step forward for us heading into this next stretch.”
Even if the points don’t come against Ohio State, he said the team shouldn’t get rattled because it has the opportunity for big wins later in the season. He also said objectives change and getting into the top four of the standings would be huge because it would give Indiana home-field advantage in the conference tournament.
For Ohio State, it has lost all three of its Big Ten matches to this point. It’s played against two of the top-three teams in second-place Wisconsin and third-place Maryland, losing by scores of 2-0 and 2-1, respectively.
Despite its early struggles in conference play, Yeagley said he thinks Ohio State should be near the middle of the standings based on its performance so far. He said Ohio State’s record is the result of unfortunate outcomes rather than overall performance this season.
“I look at them and they’re not a bottom-of-the-Big Ten team,” Yeagley said. “I think the parity this year is as good as it ever has been, so we’re approaching this game as the records really are off the table. It’s just two teams looking to move up in the standings.”
Brian Maisonneuve, a former roommate and teammate of Yealgey at Indiana and with the Columbus Crew in the MLS, coaches Ohio State. Maisonneuve, who Yeagley calls a “great friend,” also served as an assistant coach under him at Indiana from 2010 to 2017 before taking the head coach position at Ohio State.
When you face a friend and someone you’re close with, Yeagley said the key is blocking it out and removing that piece once the whistle blows.
“That’s the way I typically deal with it,” Yeagley said. “Otherwise you can get kind of emotionally wrapped up in the moment and that’s not really healthy for anyone.”