Indiana Men’s Soccer stuns No. 9 Akron, wraps up 3 home games with 2 wins

The mood was different at Bill Armstrong Stadium on Friday night.

Maybe it was the presence of the Indiana 2012 Men’s National Soccer Championship team that was honored before the game, or maybe it was the mass of Hoosier fans whose raucous cheers filled the air for 90 minutes. Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, Indiana played its most complete game of the season en route to a 2-0 upset against No. 9 University Akron.

Despite losing St. John’s University 1-0 on Tuesday, Indiana nearly saw its first win of the season wasted due to a deep baseline and lack of offensive urgency. On Friday, however; the team threatened Akron’s backline the entire game with intense pressure from fast forwards like sophomore Sam Sarver.

The notoriously powerful Zips offense started the game as advertised. However, instead of settling deeper and leaving junior Zips keeper JT Harms with shots into the net, the Hoosiers pushed their trio of centre-backs higher to stop the attack before it got through. approaching the penalty area from 18 meters.

[Related: Indiana women’s soccer plays to fourth scoreless draw of the season against Louisville]

After the game, head coach Todd Yeagley praised his defenders for their efforts.

“Our defensive team won this game first and foremost,” Yeagley said. “The way we turned them around in key places generated a lot of our attacks, and I’m really pleased.”

The Hoosiers struck first in the seventh minute on Friday night through a Sarver header into the bottom corner. The chain of passes and building from the back led to senior striker Herbert Endeley bursting down the wing and eventually sending a cross into the box for the assist.

Yeagley spoke of the relentless pressure from Sarver and his penchant for giving the Hoosiers early leads.

“(Sarver) is working, and he’s still probing both defensively and offensively,” Yeagley said. “He has so much emotion in his game and that helps you get started. It’s like going from 0 to 60 in a second.

Midway through the first half, Indiana had six shots to Akron’s one. With baseline aggression and discipline creating constant threatening opportunities for Indiana, Akron was forced to follow their heels and had to rely on long balls or clearances to establish any offense.

In the 39th minute, the Hoosiers again found themselves attacking the Zips’ back line. Senior striker Karsen Henderlong made his way to the side of the 18-yard box and centered a perfect ball past junior striker Nate Ward, who crept in for the shot to put the Hoosiers through of them.

After the match, Ward expressed the excitement he felt when he scored his first goal of the season and ultimately defeated Akron.

“I was just excited,” Ward said. “It was a hell of a ball from (Henderlong) so it felt good. It took us a little while to get going this season but we knew we had it in us and we just wanted to bring the game to them. ”

As the game progressed into the second half, desperation for the Zips set in. With two yellow cards in the space of 30 seconds, it was obvious the Zips would step up their physicality to chase the two-goal deficit.

Additionally, the Hoosiers suffered injuries to key players on Friday night. Redshirt senior defender Daniel Munie, fifth-year senior defender Nyk Sessock and Henderlong were all slow to leave the field, but Yeagley attributed that to cramps, saying they should be fine.

After two straight wins, Indiana will look to build on their momentum when they take on Butler University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14 in Indianapolis. Butler is currently ranked No. 12 in the country, according to the United Soccer Coaches poll.

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MatthewPress23) and Kamil Gut (@GutKamil) for updates throughout the game and the rest of Indiana’s men’s soccer season.

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