Indiana men’s soccer kept its four-game winning streak alive Wednesday, beating the University of Evansville 2-0. The Hoosiers’ fifth clean sheet in a row improved their record to 10-3-1 on the season and 6-1-1 against non-conference opponents.
“We feel great,” junior forward Ryan Wittenbrink said after the match. “We’re clicking on all cylinders and the backline is as solid as ever, so it gives us a lot of confidence.”
The Hoosiers entered the match expecting the Aces to be solid competition. Head coach Todd Yeagley said he knew the Aces had good pieces offensively and was happy his team could pick up a clean sheet.
“To hold a team that’s pretty good offensively to really not have a dangerous chance was probably the takeaway of the game,” Yeagley said.
Junior forward Victor Bezerra put Indiana on the board in the 24th minute after drawing a foul just outside the 18-yard box. On the free kick, Bezerra sent a shot straight into the left-hand side of the goal past the diving Evansville goalkeeper to put Indiana up 1-0.
Bezerra leads the Hoosiers with five goals on the season, followed by freshmen forwards Tommy Mihalic and Samuel Sarver with four each.
Wittenbrink emulated Bezerra’s goal late in the second half, drawing a yellow-card foul from Evansville junior defender Francesco Brunetti in the 72nd minute to again set Indiana up with a free kick just outside the 18-yard box.
Wittenbrink’s shot went toward the right side of the goal, traveling on-frame, where it bounced off an Evansville defender before going into the net. Since the ball was on-frame and going in either way, Wittenbrink was credited with the goal.
“He’s so good at finding little seams and pockets,” Yeagley said. “He’s clever and I was happy that Witt got a goal. He’s playing well, and if Witt’s doing that for us, we’re in a good place.”
Indiana finished with 14 shots and six on goal, while Evansville finished with nine shots and four on goal.
Indiana’s defense was a key part of the game, keeping Evansville from putting up any real threat at the goal as junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano made four simple saves.
“Every one was somewhat routine, and Roman didn’t run to make the save,” Yeagley said. “All the box defending moves were good. I thought we let the balls travel when they should and we bodied well.”
The majority of the match was slow-paced for both teams. The biggest jump of energy came after Bezerra’s goal in the first half when both teams were more aggressive in their offensive pressing. For the Hoosiers, that made their ability to capitalize on free kick opportunities even more important.
“Our set pieces are starting to strengthen,” Wittenbrink said. “It just makes us more dynamic and have more threats. It helps us a lot on offense.”
Junior forward Herbert Endeley led the team with four shots in the match, but was unable to convert any.
Yeagley said he is still happy about the effort he saw from his players, plus the long charges down field he saw from Endeley and Mihalic.
“It’s really good for the psyche of the group,” Yeagley said. “I told them after the game, ‘I love those moments’.”
Confidence and good psyche will be important for Indiana when facing Big Ten opponent Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington. Wisconsin is fourth in conference standings and two points behind Indiana.