Indiana men’s soccer travels to Rutgers for its sixth straight Big Ten final appearance | Tech US News

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On Wednesday night in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana men’s soccer reinserted itself into the national contention conversation. The Hoosiers, who were plagued by a rocky regular season both in and out of conference play, traveled to College Park, Md., with one goal in mind: revenge.

After defeating Penn State in the quarterfinals, Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley and his players quickly found out they would travel to face the Terrapins in the next round. Redshirt senior defenseman Daniel Munie, the team captain, especially relished the opportunity.

Courtesy of two first-half goals from sophomore forward Sam Sarver and junior defenseman Joey Maher, Indiana defied the hostile environment to clinch the tournament’s No. 1 seed. The win was routine for Yeagley, who advanced to its sixth straight Big Ten Tournament final.

[Related: Indiana men’s soccer defeats No. 6 Maryland in nail-biting 2-1 upset, advances to B1G finals]

Their opponent, No. 2 Rutgers, will make their first appearance in program history. Although a historically successful program, the Scarlet Knights have been half-assed since joining the Big Ten in 2014. At noon Sunday in Piscataway, New Jersey, a fast-rising powerhouse hosts what is arguably the biggest empire in the college football

“(Rutgers) is a proud program that obviously has new life in the Big Ten,” Yeagley said at a news conference Friday. “It is very difficult to be at the top and stay there. They are finding their stride and it’s going to be a tough challenge instead.”

Rutgers attributes the vast majority of its success to its potent offensive game. Senior forward MD Meyers, who scored 13 goals this season en route to Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors, is the team’s driving force.

While Meyers’ game-wrecking potential is well-documented, his fellow attackers have played a key role in Rutgers’ top-scoring Big Ten offense. Senior midfielder Jackson Temple, though smaller in stature, possesses phenomenal quickness and toughness when dealing with defenders.

As was evident when Rutgers hosted the Hoosiers on Oct. 9, the Scarlet Knights have an uncanny knack for terrorizing backs and creating rushing attacks. Junior midfielder Jason Bouregy and graduate student Pablo Ávila, who have combined for seven goals and 12 assists on the season, often create their dangerous chances.

“They’re dynamic,” Yeagley said. “They’re gifted individually. Their movement off the ball live was better than what we saw on video. Their rotations on offense are very good. They put a little more emphasis on where their numbers go, which is forward. The stats like they prove it.

While Rutgers’ offense outlasted Ohio State in the semifinals, the Scarlet Knights’ defensive struggles persisted. Throughout conference play, they ranked below average in goals allowed and goals against average. Against the Buckeyes on Wednesday, Rutgers surrendered 14 shots and may have gotten a little lucky escaping with just one goal.

Throughout the season, the Scarlet Knights’ backline has had a tendency to get exposed due to their highly aggressive nature on offense. Munie took advantage of that when the Hoosiers last traveled to Piscataway, as he rushed behind a vulnerable Rutgers center for a go-ahead goal. Although the game ended 2-2, Rutgers’ defensive lapses were evident.

“Sometimes they throw a few numbers further and so maybe they’re more vulnerable in transition,” Yeagley said. “They’re not going to be a backline that’s going to stay at home and say, ‘now come and get us’. They’re going to throw their full-backs forward, (and) their center back is actually quite adventurous driving the ball.”

Although Rutgers is the top favorite in Sunday’s final and holds home-field advantage, Indiana is far from an underdog. Because of their storied history, there is always significant incentive to take down the Hoosiers.

“There’s just a consistency of excellence,” Yeagley said. “That’s where the elite programs are separated. Every team wants a piece of us.”

Follow journalists Kamil Gut (@GutKamil) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) for updates during the Indiana men’s soccer season.

Support the Indiana Daily Student to beat Purdue’s student newspaper, the exponent, making a donation to the IDS Legacy Fund! Whichever publication raises the most money before the Nov. 26 Purdue vs. IU football game “wins” the challenge, but all donations go to support student journalism at the respective publications. To help IU beat Purdue and support IDS, follow this link to donate



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