Indiana men’s soccer continued its dominant stretch on the defensive end Wednesday night at Bill Armstrong Stadium as the team posted its fifth-straight shutout. The offense capitalized, scoring two goals and giving the team a 2-0 win against the University of Evansville.
After a slow start defensively this season where it gave up nine goals in eight games, the Hoosiers haven’t allowed a goal since its 2-1 overtime loss against Michigan on Oct. 1. They’ve also outscored their opponents 16-0 on the way to a five-match winning streak.
“We feel great, clicking on all cylinders, back line is as solid as ever so this gives us a lot of confidence,” junior forward Ryan Wittenbrink said. “The midfield is playing great and we’re starting to click more on offense which is helping us create a lot more chances.”
Junior forward Victor Bezerra scored Indiana’s first goal in the 24th minute off a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. Senior midfielder Joe Schmidt took the first touch, dropping the ball off to Bezerra who fired a low shot into the bottom-left corner of the goal.
Much like Indiana’s defense, Bezerra has come into form as of late and scored five goals in Indiana’s last six matches. Bezerra was scoreless in the team’s first eight games after leading the team with 12 goals last season.
On the defensive end, Indiana allowed three shots on goal in the first half, but the shots were directly at junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano who made easy saves on all three.
“I told them after the game, ‘You gave up some shots but every one was somewhat routine’ and Roman didn’t really have to make a save,” Yeagley said. “To hold a team that’s pretty good offensively to really not have a dangerous chance, I thought was probably the takeaway from the night.”
Celentano, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, finished the match with four saves. He’s posted eight clean sheets in Indiana’s 14 games this season.
Wittenbrink scored Indiana’s second goal and his second of the season off a free kick, which was sent into the box from the left side in the 72nd minute. Wittenbrink put the shot on goal, then it bounced off the head of an Evansville defender into the right side of the goal past junior goalkeeper Jacob Madden. Wittenbrink was credited with the goal despite the bounce because the shot was already on frame.
Wittenbrink came off the bench like he normally has this season to play 40 minutes against Evansville. After the match, Yeagley said Wittenbrink is a starter-level player, but he’s at his best once the game settles for a moment, so a bench role suits him.
“I was happy that Witt got a goal,” Yeagley said. “He’s playing well and if Witt’s doing that for us then we’re in a good place.”
Indiana used a deep bench against Evansville, playing 14 players for at least 40 minutes. Senior defender Nyk Sessock, who usually starts in the back line for Indiana, didn’t play until the second half. Yeagley said his first-half absence was to get him some rest because the team has played so many games recently.
“I think we have really good depth, which gives us confidence that no matter who is in we can play well and that’ll definitely help us in the Big Ten Tournament and postseason,” Wittenbrink said. “No matter who is on the field we’re always confident.”
Indiana will look for its sixth-straight clean sheet against Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium. After six Big Ten games, Wisconsin is part of a three-way tie for third in the conference standings with 10 points. Indiana and Penn State are tied for first with 12 points.