Indiana men’s soccer begins its NCAA Tournament run against Bowling Green University on Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Kickoff was pushed back from noon to 2 p.m. due to poor field conditions caused by overnight rain.
As the No. 15 seed, Indiana received a first-round bye, allowing for more time off to prepare for the games ahead. Indiana is the only program to earn a national seed — given to the top 16 teams in the tournament — in each of the last eight seasons. While that is important to the team, they feel they have bigger things to focus on.
“We’re proud that we’ve been seeded,” head coach Todd Yeagley said in a press conference Friday. “But you’re really not looking at the numbers, you’re looking at the matchup.”
Bowling Green beat the University of Louisville 1-0 on Thursday in the first round of the tournament, advancing to the second round of the tournament for the first time since 1996. The team finished 10-4-3 on the season, outscoring opponents 34-21.
“They’re mature. They’re very balanced,” Yeagley said. “They have a pretty good, balanced attack in the sense of they’ve scored from a lot of different places.”
Indiana and Bowling Green have not met since 1997, but the two teams have common opponents in Michigan State, Ohio State and the University of Akron. Indiana finished 2-0-1 against the three teams, only allowing one goal in a 1-1 tie with Akron. Bowling Green finished 1-2-0 with losses to Ohio State and Akron.
Indiana has not played a game since its 3-0 loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament championship game Sunday. Yeagley said the game had a lot of good performance pieces and the team’s biggest challenge was restarts — something they focused on in practice.
“We’re reevaluating who takes the restarts, maybe a few variations that we haven’t used,” Yeagley said.
Indiana has outscored its opponents 34-16 and junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano secured a career-high 10 shutouts this season. He has allowed 16 goals and has 66 saves, proving to be instrumental in Indiana’s defensive success.
The Hoosiers have held opponents to an average of 0.8 goals per game and 10.2 shots per game. The Falcons have performed similarly, allowing 10.1 shots per game and 1.11 goals.
“They’re tough,” Yeagley said. “It's a seasoned team, they have a good togetherness.”
Indiana is also prepared for the possibility of upsets, overtime and penalty kicks, which have already occurred in the first round of the tournament, notably with Long Island University’s 1-0 upset over Maryland.
“The field is tight,” Yeagley said. “Everyone is capable of nipping a team and the so-called favorites are far and few between.”
The Hoosiers will host the Falcons at Bill Armstrong Stadium and the winner will continue on to face the University of Portland or the No. 2 University of Washington in the third round.
“We’re ready,” Yeagley said of his team. “I feel that this season has prepared them well.”