After not being awarded a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, Indiana men’s soccer is set to face Lipscomb University in the first round.
Indiana had been nationally seeded in nine consecutive NCAA Tournaments prior to this season, but its early season struggles were enough to break the streak. Losses to the University of Washington and the University of South Florida highlight some of the costly early results, ultimately playing a part in Indiana not receiving a seed in the tournament.
The Hoosiers’ slow start also prompted questions about them making the NCAA tournament at all, but a 2-1 win against Penn State on Oct. 7 kick-started their winning streak and they went on to win all but one of their remaining regular season games. The run won Indiana a share of the Big Ten regular-season title and awarded it the first seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which they went on to win.
Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said many of his players were disappointed to not be seeded after winning the double, but are ultimately focused on the road ahead.
“We’re just excited to be obviously moving on and we’ll just gear up for Thursday,” Yeagley said on Monday.
Lipscomb is coming off a 1-0 win in the ASUN Tournament Championship, where they defeated Bellarmine University. The win marked Lipscomb’s third consecutive conference tournament title, completing the conference double for the Bison this season.
The Bison boast a 10-3-4 record this season, including a 2-1 win against Saint Louis University — which Indiana beat in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Their attacking prowess has been a big factor in their success this season, scoring 43 goals in just 17 matches. Lipscomb has created a multitude of chances this year, averaging 17 shots a match.
Their main source of goals has been junior forward Tyrese Spicer, who has 13 goals this season and has added three assists as well. Other offensive threats for the Bison include sophomore forward Malachi Jones and senior forward Ploutarchos Alonefti. Jones has tallied five goals and 12 assists while Alonefti has four goals and 12 assists.
The Bison haven’t been as successful defensively, allowing 30 goals this season. They’ve only managed to keep three clean sheets this season, with two of those coming in their last two matches. This should give Indiana an opportunity to continue their high-scoring form coming into the tournament.
With such a short turnaround, Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said recovery will be a main focus leading up to the match.
“It’ll really be how we recover from yesterday and prepare for Thursday,” Yeagley said Monday. “It’s much heavier on our preparation, physically, mentally.”
Yeagley said learning who his team is playing just days before the match will be a challenge for this game and potentially the rest of the tournament as well.
“It is tricky not knowing your opponent,” Yeagley said. “You’re physically preparing but yet not knowing who you’re going to play, it could be two very different teams. It’s a different preparation.”
Despite the crunched time, Yeagley plans on taking a good look at Thursday’s opponent.
“We’ll take a good dive on Lipscomb,” Yeagley said. “We just have to find those little soft spots, our matchup advantages against them and that’s what we’ll hone in on.”