August 31, 2012
Kathryn L. Knapp
FIGHTING FOR A WIN
Up Two, IU Digs Deep for Win
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Three games into the season, the IU men’s soccer team is finding what it takes to win. Friday night’s match at Bill Armstrong Stadium started with an early goal. But by no means was it an easy win. The Hoosier defense and goalkeeper Luis Soffner hung in there until the final seconds, overcoming adversity and fighting for the 3-0 win over Clemson.
“It was a tough one,” sophomore Eriq Zavaleta said. “It’s good to get that first goal. We have trained about closing games out. Tonight, the third goal really sealed the deal for us.”
Zavaleta scored the first and third goals of the night. Kyle Sparks added the middle goal, giving the club a somewhat convincing win. But while they were up 2-0, a rough tackle on Clemson’s Ian Smith nearly changed the match. Dylan Lax challenged Smith on a tackle and the play ended in Smith being injured. The referee ruled that despite throwing a yellow card on the initial tackle, the severity of the injury warranted red. And Lax was thrown out of the match.
After at least a 15-minute delay while medics tended to Smith, all of the players struggled to keep their heads in the game. The Hoosiers played the remaining 16 plus minutes down a man, and fighting to keep their two-goal advantage.
“We told everyone to stay loose,” Soffner said. “We told them to keep stretching and keep the mentality right.”
The Hoosiers did just that, tallying a late goal and fighting for the 3-0 win. But it wasn’t easy. The game was almost a tale of two halves. The Hoosiers started off the match strong, but after taking a 1-0 lead, something was missing. Second half, they came out reenergized and reorganized and took control.
“We made very simple corrections at the half,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “Things opened up. It was over complicated in the first half. The flow of the game was disrupted by the unfortunate injury. But we weathered the storm.”
Two goals on the night give Zavaleta five on the season. The 6’1” forward tallied 10 total in his rookie campaign. And now, just three games in, he’s at half that number.
“He’s so calm around the goal,” Yeagley said. “He’s still got better soccer in him. The game slows down when he’s around. He’s continuously dangerous in the box. He’s so good with his back to the goal and his feet are smart. He’s leaving his mark on this program.”
Three games in, IU has earned victories over Saint Louis, Cincinnati and Clemson. They’ve outscored opponents 8-1 and haven’t allowed a goal in 248 minutes. But it’s early and they’re all well aware of that fact.
“It feels good right now,” Soffner said. “We like to keep the ball. We are now starting to gel as a defense. If we keep the ball out of the net, we can’t lose. But we need to continue to work on improving.”