Even though Friday's soccer match between Indiana and the University of Alabama-Birmingham is more than 450 miles away, the stage is set for a much more personal match between the ranked opponents.
The head coach of the Blazers is Mike Getman, someone who is very knowledgeable with Indiana soccer. Not only did he grow up in Bloomington, but he also played as a fullback for IU during his time as an undergrad. He then went on to become an assistant for the team from 1984-86, when the Hoosiers went to the tournament all three years and were in the title game in '84.
It's not too big of a stretch to see how Getman has structured his team at UAB. He looks for strong, skillful athletes, who will come to practice every day to work hard and get better.
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"We mostly play a 4-4-2, which is slightly different from what Indiana plays. We are more of a possession team, but a lot of our core values are the same," Getman said in an interview with AllHoosiers.com on Thursday.
The most challenging aspect of playing the Hoosiers is the same as in playing the Blazers: the attack comes from all angles. This past weekend, UAB notched a total of nine goals, which leads the nation in scoring. While Indiana may not have found the back of the net as often, that doesn't mean UAB isn't expecting anything less.
"Indiana is a very complete team, everyone is skillful. Everyone knows how they are supposed to play," Getman said. "The challenge will be matching that for a full 90 minutes. IU is the ultimate challenge; everyone measures themselves against the Hoosiers."
That isn't to say IU will be without a challenge themselves. In its first game of the season, UAB did not allow a single shot on goal in the entire match. With the Hoosiers still looking for the final touch to really break open the scoring, it will definitely be a task against the back four of the Blazers, as they have all played together for several years, building chemistry and learning to play to their strengths.
With the match being the first one at home for UAB, Getman is expecting a crazy atmosphere to greet the Hoosiers.
"The weather forecast is beautiful, and we are expecting a sellout. It should be the largest crowd we have ever had here," Getman commented.
As coach Getman said, "Scoring goals is what soccer is all about." With what is at stake for both of these teams, I would expect a lot of scoring to determine the outcome of this match.