Indiana men’s soccer’s backline stepped up once again, slowing Lipscomb University’s dynamic attack in its 2-1 win Thursday night.
Lipscomb’s high-scoring attack was a concern for Indiana leading up to the match, as the Bison scored 43 goals in just 17 games this season. Averaging about two goals and 17 shots a match, the Bison presented an intimidating attack for the Hoosiers to defend.
“They’re really dynamic,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said Wednesday.
Lipscomb hasn’t been shut out all season, scoring in every single match they’ve played. Its streak continued Thursday, but Indiana limited Lipscomb’s dynamic attack for most of the match. The Hoosiers held the Bison to 11 shots on the night, with Indiana only conceding a late deflected goal that cost them the chance to be the only team to keep a clean sheet against Lipscomb this season.
“I thought we did a really good job against them,” Yeagley said postgame. “ Our help was great, I thought the way we didn’t let them run at our backline, they were jamming them early. We talked about how to take their first touch away if we could.”
Yeagley said his team was happy to advance, but they would have felt better if they got the clean sheet.
“I was disappointed in the end,” Yeagley said. “Obviously very happy we’re advancing, but this team, they haven’t been shut out. Guys were a little bit upset after the game, we want that shutout.”
An 84th-minute goal by Lipscomb junior forward Tyrese Spicer stripped Indiana of a clean sheet, but this came as no surprise for the Hoosiers. Spicer and sophomore forward Malachi Jones were two players Indiana heavily prepared for leading up to this match. Spicer is Lipscomb’s leading goal scorer this season with 14 goals this season. Jones has scored five goals but has added a joint team-high 12 assists for the Bison.
“We know (Spicer) and Malachi Jones are two of the top players in the country,” Indiana senior defender Joey Maher said after the match. “Unreal goal-scoring, versatile, just unbalancers. We knew that we really had to get at them quick, not let them get in full stride. We knew if that happened it could be a long day for us in the back.”
Yeagley also added that Jones and Spicer are two of the best forwards Indiana will face all season.
“You give (Spicer) a half chance, he’s lethal,” Yeagley said.
Maher said the whole team deserves credit for Indiana’s defensive performances throughout the season, not just the back line.
“The biggest thing with us is that we defend with 11,” Maher said. “It’s easier to do our job when we have our forwards and our midfielders working their tail off for us. That gives us the utmost confidence as a backline that we’re gonna be able to get the job done as a team collectively.”
Yeagley said experience and leadership in the back line played a big part in Indiana’s win Thursday night. He specifically noted players like Maher and senior defender Brett Bebej benefit from their previous experiences in NCAA Tournament matches.
“There’s a lot of leadership in this team,” Yeagley said.
Indiana’s backline has been a bright spot all season, allowing just 15 goals over the course of the season.. They’ve limited opponents to an average of seven shots a game, and have kept eight clean sheets.
Goals by freshman forward Collins Oduro and senior forward Maouloune Goumballe were enough to reward the Hoosiers’ defensive effort with a win, advancing them to the Round of 32 where they will visit No. 10 Wake Forest University. The match is set for 5 p.m. Sunday and will be streamed on ESPN+.