Two matches remain in the regular season for Indiana men’s soccer — a nonconference matchup with Virginia Commonwealth University at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home and its Big Ten finale against Maryland at 1 p.m. Sunday in College Park, Maryland.
Indiana enters the home stretch of its regular season on a six-match win streak in which its defense has posted six-straight clean sheets. After starting the season 5-3-1 with an even 11-11 goal differential, Indiana has outscored its opponents 17-0 over its last six matches to move to 11-3-1.
Thanks to their recent string of success, the Hoosiers reentered the top 25 in the NCAA United Soccer Coaches’ poll this week at No. 22 after being ranked as high as No. 1 earlier in the season.
VCU comes to Bloomington with a 9-5-1 record this season, losing its most recent match against Fordham University 1-0 on Oct. 23. Indiana has played VCU three times since 2003 and holds a 2-1 advantage in the series.
Indiana will look to extend its win streak to seven, but its match against No. 7 Maryland will be more consequential. Currently, Indiana sits atop the Big Ten standings in a tie with Penn State, which it beat 1-0 earlier in the season, with 15 points after Penn State beat Maryland 3-2 Tuesday night.
While Maryland is still in the race for the regular-season title despite the loss, Penn State took the must-win match in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 2-0 deficit and winning 3-2 in overtime. Indiana, Maryland and Penn State are now the only three teams with a chance to win the conference title, and all three teams will play at the same time Sunday.
Indiana, which has won the regular-season title three straight times, can secure it again with a win against Maryland. Even if Penn State were to win its match on the road against Wisconsin, Indiana holds the tiebreaker because it beat Penn State earlier this season.
Indiana can’t lose its match with Maryland and still win the title. However, if Indiana draws with Maryland and Penn State draws or loses to Wisconsin, Indiana would still take the title. Maryland would need to beat Indiana and Penn State to lose against Wisconsin to win the title.
Michigan was still in the race for the title as late as Tuesday, but it was knocked out of the running by Ohio State, which is 2-5 in the conference this season. The most wins any team in the Big Ten can secure this season is six, and every team has already won at least two.
The Hoosiers are 3-0 this season in conference matches on the road and have won their last three since starting 2-2 in the Big Ten this season. Junior forward Victor Bezerra and freshman midfielder Tommy Mihalic lead them with five goals each this season, and the Terrapins are led by sophomore midfielder Ben Bender who has seven.