November 28, 2016
Kathryn L. Knapp
LACKING THE FINISHING TOUCH
IU men dominated offensively, but couldn't find the net
Chicagoland Soccer News Contributing Editor
The Indiana Hoosiers had no trouble attacking in the 2016 season. The team created plenty of scoring opportunities. Finishing, on the other hand, was another story. Sunday proved to be no different, as Indiana (12-2-7) fell 2-1 to Virginia Tech in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
“They left everything on the field today,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “Again they couldn’t find that goal when they needed it. Finishing has been elusive this year. You work so hard on cleaning up the final third. We still have to get better and cleaner in the final third.”
The Hoosiers out shot the Hokies 24 to 8 in Sunday’s match. Indiana recorded 11 shots on goal, with one goal. Virginia Tech recorded four, two of which went into the net. Hokies goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard made nine saves, while the defense accounted for a 10th save on the afternoon.
“Our defending has been amazing all year,” Virginia Tech head coach Michael Brizendine said. “They [Our defenders] are accustomed to having to face attacking players. We haven’t felt that onslaught. They were all over us. We couldn’t get into a rhythm. They got us out of our rhythm and kept their foot on the as all game.”
Sunday wasn’t the only offensive disappointment for the Hoosiers this season. In all competitions, IU out shot its opponents 365 to 206, including sending 127 shots on goal. Indiana ranked first in the nation in shots attempted, averaging 17.38 shots per game. They ranked 37th in the nation for shots on goal, averaging 6.05 per game.
But when it came to the number of goals scored, IU didn’t even make the top 50. The Hoosiers combined for 30 total goals. Opposing goalkeepers combined for 96 saves. Out of Indiana’s 11 shutouts this season, four of them were 0-0 draws. In those games alone, IU outshot opponents 71-42, with 25 shots on goal. They were creating opportunities. They oozed with confidence.
“The whole game I felt confident,” IU defender Grant Lillard said after IU’s 2-1 loss Sunday. “The team felt confident. We had more chances, more possession and better field position. The ball just wasn’t bouncing our way.”
Defensively, IU posted 11 shutouts with goalkeepers Christian Lomeli and Colin Webb combining for a 0.70 goals against average. The shutouts ranked 11th in the nation while the GAA ranked 15th. When the team came together defensively, they could shut down any team. But again, they couldn’t always find the back of the net.
When Virginia Tech scored the game-winner in the 98th minute Sunday, the IU players collapsed like dominoes on the pitch. Senior Tanner Thompson was still in a state of disbelief as he discussed the final match of his career.
“Going out like that… it’s not fun,” Thompson said. “The young guys will remember it and not let it happen again. These moments sting, but you learn from them.”