Indiana men’s soccer will appear in its 11th consecutive Big Ten Tournament semifinal, taking on Michigan with a ticket to the championship game on the line.
Indiana had a nail-biting end in its quarterfinal match against Wisconsin, as the Badgers had opportunities to equalize in the dying moments of the match. The Hoosiers had a 2-0 lead by the 55th minute and were limiting the Badgers offensively.
Wisconsin still managed to cut the lead to one with 15 minutes to go, but Indiana was able to hold on to its 2-1 lead and advance in the tournament. Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said the first 30 minutes of the second half was when his team played its best, which was ultimately enough to win the match.
The Hoosiers now shift their focus to Michigan, whom they faced earlier this season Sept. 26. The previous matchup ended in a 0-0 draw with Indiana dominating the game but failing to convert the many goal-scoring opportunities it had.
Michigan came into the tournament with a losing record but pulled the upset against the higher-seeded Northwestern in the quarterfinals. This marked Michigan’s third consecutive win and its second straight win against Northwestern, which the Wolverines beat in the final match of the regular season as well.
“They’re more confident, they’re a better side,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said Monday regarding Michigan’s current form.
He also said a lot has changed since Indiana and Michigan faced off.
“You have two teams playing better than they were at that point, which is why probably both of us are still alive.”
Yeagley explained Michigan’s organization and expansive shape could pose more challenges for Indiana compared to their first encounter.
“They make the field very big,” Yeagley said. “Our ability to kind of split spaces and be able to still press and dictate the game I think will be important.”
With both teams being familiar with each other's players and tactics, other facets of the game start to become more important. Yeagley explained focusing on areas like set pieces and excelling in them will prove key in the match.
“I think it’s gonna come down to potentially a restart or just how we do in a transition moment and that final pass,” Yeagley said. “As games get tighter, you get chances. And if we are getting chances then your free kicks, your throws and your corner kicks all become magnified of importance.”
Finishing opportunities will also be key for the Hoosiers, as knockout matches are often defined by one or two key moments in a match.
“We just can’t assume we’re gonna get, you know, five, six seven great looks,” Yeagley said. “We gotta make sure the first one we get we make the best of.”