A battle of two highly ranked teams proved to be exactly the match-up you would expect. The Hoosiers came to Lynn stadium and walked out with a 2-1 win over the Cards thanks to goals by Grant Lillard and Trevor Swartz, who scored on a penalty kick.
The Cards were able to maintain possession throughout the game, but seemingly never in the final third. Midfielders were able to dribble into space in the middle of the pitch, but the Hoosiers refused to be drawn up and allow the Cards to play balls through to Thiaw. After getting a feel for the Cards attack, the Hoosiers were able to put their press into action and flip the field. Short bursts of possession led to quickly looking for balls down the wing, most commonly letting the Hoosier strikers lead the break. These counter attacks led to a free kick from Cardinal goal keeper Stefan Cleveland’s left that bounced in the box and came loose, only to be fired into the net by Lillard.
The Cardinals responded to the goal well by not drastically changing their game plan and continuing to find ways to work the ball in to Thiaw. Indiana’s defense was up for the task, leaving a center back permanently marking the Cards’ leading scorer and a second defender always shifting to help close him down. This opened space between the back four and the pressing midfielders forcing the Hoosiers to make tackles in space which, as it often does, lead to a foul and free kick. Kubel curled a perfect ball in from the right side that Tate Schmitt got a head on and beat the keeper.
With the game now even, both teams looked to control possession and probe the defenses. This stalemate went into the locker room but wouldn’t last long afterwards. Indiana was able to press forward and get a few balls into the box early in the 2nd half leading up to Jack Gayton taking an IU striker down and earning a penalty. Swartz lined up and calmly slid the ball into the bottom right corner as he watched Cleveland dive hard the other direction.
The rest of the game saw the Cardinal midfield unable to make any effective off-ball movement and settle for finding space outside the box and firing long shots towards the Indiana goal. Kubel created a few bright spots of offense with overlaps for excellent crosses but the Cards weren’t able to find the net on any. Degraffenredit had another solid performance and kept Indiana from making any counter attacks with the exception of one that resulted in a shot off the post.
After the hard loss, the Cards will look forward to Saturday as they return to ACC play on the road against a ranked Wake Forest team.