Indiana men’s soccer relied on its freshman class, which represented two of its top three goal scorers in the regular season and Big Ten Tournament, heavily this season. On Sunday, it was its veterans who gave the team a 2-0 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Bowling Green State University at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
The game was pushed back two hours because of poor field conditions, and it took the Hoosiers time to get used to how the ball was rolling. Indiana’s upperclassmen, however, were able to adjust and put the game away early in the second half after both teams combined for four goals — three from Indiana and one from Bowling Green — in a defense-dominated first half.
Junior forward Victor Bezerra and sixth-year senior Spencer Glass scored in the 47th and 61st minutes, respectively.
“When it’s really tight, you’d like to go with a player that’s been in some of these games,” head coach Todd Yeagley said in the postgame press conference.
Junior forward Herbert Endeley, who scored Indiana’s only goal in the College Cup last season, assisted on Glass’ goal and challenged Bowling Green with his speed all game. Glass said after the game having someone like Endeley who can get the defense off balance helped Indiana as it tried to create chances.
“We’ve been asking Herb to just use a bit more sophistication on that final pass,” Yeagley said. “That was the training field, Spencer coming up that left side. Just an absolute beauty, I really liked that goal.”
Off the scoresheet, it was the upperclassmen who led the way for the Hoosiers. Freshman forward Sam Sarver, who led the team with seven goals entering the match, was in the starting lineup but didn’t return after getting benched 30 minutes into the first half.
Yeagley said Sarver is still learning to adjust to the play style of the opponents and the physicality of Bowling Green’s defenders was different from what Indiana had seen this season.
“Sammy is still maturing in that way,” Yeagley said. “I’m confident they all are able to contribute in this run.”
Freshman midfielder Tommy Mihalic, who scored five goals this season, didn’t see any action because he was dealing with an illness, but Yeagley said he would have liked to see him play tonight. Freshman midfielder Patrick McDonald played 45 minutes off the bench.
Indiana, which came into the game as the No. 15 overall seed, will move on to the Sweet 16 and face the winner of the game between No. 2 University of Washington and the University of Portland thanks to its upperclassmen’s performance.
Barring an upset by Portland, Indiana has played its last home game this season and will travel to Washington next weekend.
“If Washington were to win, you know none of us have been there to play,” Yeagley said. “We have a lot of respect for their program, it’s going to be a great challenge, so I think they’re kind of excited to have that opportunity.”