The Indiana men’s soccer team bounced back from their loss to Michigan by defeating Evansville’s Purple Aces 2-0 on Friday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
The Hoosiers were dominant in their regular season home finale. The Purple Aces managed only six shots over the course of the game, and each time were either off the mark or rejected by the stellar play of IU goalkeeper Luis Soffner.
“All in all it was an efficient performance and we get the win and we get the shutout,” head coach Todd Yeagley said, though slightly disappointed in the team’s scoreless second half.
The Hoosiers pelted the back line of Evansville early on, finishing the first half with 13 shots (to Evansville’s two) and two goals. The first goal came off a dazzling header from Eriq Zavaleta, who was assisted by Patrick Doody. The goal marked Zavaleta’s 14th on the season.
Just over five minutes later, Evansville had their first serious chance to score, but were rebuffed by Soffner. Mere seconds later, the Hoosiers had their second goal, unassisted by Nikita Kotlov.
Although the Hoosiers would not score again for the rest of the match, it was clear after the second goal that the Purple Aces were becoming frustrated. Freshmen Faik Hajderovic and Alex Kapsalis became confrontational with one another and were promptly called out of the game to resume their disagreement on the sideline, eventually requiring intervention from the coaching staff and other players.
In the second half, Evansville stiffened on defense and Indiana was content to whittle the clock. Evansville had a prime opportunity to avoid the shutout in the final minute after a foul just outside the box, but once again, Soffner saved the day.
The win came on the heels of a disappointing loss the Michigan Wolverines.
“It’s good to bounce back and get a win,” Eriq Zavaleta said.
Defender Kerel Bradford added, “I think we’re right where we need to be. We didn’t hold our head down. We didn’t change our gameplan. We’re still going to execute just like we know how to.”
The Hoosiers will now turn their attention to Michigan State. They will visit East Lansing on Sunday to play the Spartans at 1 p.m. at DeMartin Soccer Stadium.
After that, the Hoosiers will return home for the match that will likely determine the Big Ten champion, as the Hoosiers will host Northwestern.
Of the chances of winning a conference title, Yeagley simply stated, “We’d love an opportunity to raise a trophy at home, and that’s in front of us if we take care of business on Sunday.”