Indiana men’s soccer will take a break from Big Ten play Wednesday, returning home for a game against the University of Evansville at 7 p.m. at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The match is the first of a three-match homestand for Indiana.
Indiana is 9-3-1 and on a four-game winning streak, while Evansville is 1-10-1 with an 0-7-0 record in away matches. While Evansville is a non-conference opponent, head coach Todd Yeagley said he doesn’t think of the game as any less important from a Big Ten matchup.
“To me the non-conference slate is its own entity within the season,” Yeagley said in a press conference Tuesday. “It’s just another challenge. It’s another way to put our resume together for a postseason opportunity.”
Indiana is coming off a 1-0 win over Penn State on Sunday, handing Penn State its first conference loss of the season and boosting Indiana to a first-place tie with Penn State in conference standings.
In their last four wins, the Hoosiers have seen their strategies and skills becoming more refined and consistent. Junior forward Victor Bezerra, who missed two games in the start of the season with a knee injury, found his rhythm in recent games. He has scored 4 goals and is leading the team with 13 points and five assists.
Yeagley said the team has had better communication, allowing less scoring chances to other teams. Any chances the team has given up have led to big saves from junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano.
“Just some small details have been better,” Yeagley said. “Every phase of our game is improving. I think our back line and Roman have played some of their best individual performances.”
Celentano also praised the work the backline defense and midfield have put in for building trust as a group, crediting senior defender Spencer Glass as a key component in the team finding its form.
“I think the time we spend on the practice field and the game field together builds the relationships and the trust,” Celentano said. “We know each other’s tendencies.”
Indiana has demonstrated its roster depth throughout the season, consistently bringing in four to six players off the bench in each game. Yeagley is preparing for a competitive match and may focus on keeping his starters in.
“Evansville’s a very good side, and their record’s very deceiving,” Yeagley said. “They’ve played some really good teams tight, so we’ll see how the game goes.”
Evansville has put up 116 shots with nine goals on the season, and Indiana has 158 shots with 25 goals. Evansville has given up 29 opponent goals, most recently losing 5-1 to Loyola University Chicago.
“Obviously this is a really important game for us,” Yeagley said. “We need a good result and obviously then we’ll gear up for the weekend’s match.”
After Evansville, Indiana is scheduled to face Wisconsin, who is tied for third in Big Ten standings, at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.