Finding an unoccupied place in the record book for Indiana University men’s soccer is an unenviable task.
It was also one that the top-ranked Hoosiers were up to on Wednesday night in a 2-0 victory over No. 21 Kentucky at Armstrong Stadium.
IU (11-0-2) earned its place in the annals of the tradition-laden program by recording a school-record seventh straight shutout with a scoreless streak that has now reached 689 minutes and 37 seconds.
“It wasn’t a goal at the beginning of the season,” Indiana coach Todd Yeagley said. “… Once we were getting into the record range, you could see the guys getting excited. In this program, it’s hard to put yourself in the record book, so that’s cool for this group to be able to do that.
— Indiana Men’s Soccer (@IUMensSoccer) October 12, 2017
“Whatever future team is able to clip this number, they’re going to reference the 2017 team. Hopefully I’ll still be around to say, ‘That was a heckuva team.’ That’s putting your mark on it, and given historically how good we are defensively, that’s really hard to do. I take a lot of pride in it, and I know our team does.”
The record-breaking shutout didn’t come easily, as Kentucky outshot Indiana 11-10 for the game, including 6-5 in shots on goal.
Freshman goalkeeper Trey Muse made all six necessary saves for the Hoosiers, including a fingertip effort that pushed the ball off the right post in the 81st minute on a UK corner kick.
“It was a reaction,” Muse said of the streak saver. “I saw it late and just had to react to it off the line. It was a pretty good save. There was a little disorganization to cause the play to build up like that, so I think if we can clean it up, we can prevent it in the future.”
— BTN Student U (@BTNStudentU) October 12, 2017
Kentucky saw little of the ball through the first 30-plus minutes on Wednesday, with the freshman duo of Griffin Dorsey — just back Tuesday night from a week-long stint in Spain with the U18 national team — and Mason Toye giving the Wildcat defense two giant headaches.
It was a foul against Dorsey in the 13th minute that set up the Hoosiers’ first score. From the far right side of the pitch, Trevor Swartz sent in a swerving cross from 25 yards that IU junior defender Timmy Mehl got to first, drilling the ball into the back of the net with his right foot for a 1-0 lead.
“If I beat my guy to the spot, I have an open shot, and I just happened to put it away,” Mehl said of this third goal of the season.
Indiana was unable to build on the advantage, and Muse made a pair of late first-half saves to preserve the lead.
It was more of the same in the second half, with the teams trading end-to-end attacks to no avail. Kentucky had more of the shots, mostly from long range once again.
“We’re giving them 30-yard shots, so we’re not too worried, especially when we have Trey back there,” Mehl said. “We close them down as quick as we can, so if all they have is 30-yard shots, we’ll give them that the majority of the time.”
— Indiana Hoosiers (@IUHoosiers) October 12, 2017
The Hoosiers finally cashed in themselves in the 73rd minute, as Spencer Glass hit an in-swinging corner kick from the right side to the near post. Frankie Moore got a touch, then Rashad Hyacenth had the ball bounce off of him and squirt past the goalkeeper for a 2-0 edge.
“(The second goal) took some of the pressure off,” Mehl said, “but we can’t just stop playing.”
The Wildcats certainly didn’t, persistently sending waves of attackers at the Indiana defense and creating multiple heart-pounding moments, such as Muse’s clutch save.
But in the end, the Hoosiers got not only a win, but an entry into the record books — albeit one with which they aren’t completely content. The NCAA record for consecutive shutouts is 11, after all.
“It’s something that we strive for,” Muse said. “We know it doesn’t necessarily define us as a team or a defense, but that’s the goal every game, looking for shutouts, but more importantly, to win the game. With the work of the back line and center mids with me, I feel like we’re a good unit, and I don’t think we’re settling for seven.”
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