IU Insider Blog: Soccer in a funk

Men's soccer is the one team you would have thought would have been fine this fall, coming off a national championship and returning as the No. 1 ranked team in the land. But IU is 1-2 and clearly struggling.

Indiana's fall sports teams are off to good starts.

Well, the majority of them any way.

Volleyball is 4-0, women's soccer is 4-0-1 and football is 1-0 and scored 73 points in its only game.

The field hockey team lost its first two games but then broke a school record for goals in a game Friday, beating Saint Louis 11-0.

That leaves only the defending national champion men's soccer team. And you know they're probably off to a great start, right? Good team, good coach, all kinds of momentum.

Guess again.

Interestingly, the defending national champs are in a bit of a funk.

IU's men's soccer team is 1-2 after falling to UAB 2-1 in overtime Friday night in Birmingham. That came on the heels of a 1-0 overtime loss to UCLA last weekend.

Is it time to sound the alarm, hit the panic button, or come up with another cliché to describe the situation? Probably not. If anyone will get it turned around it's Todd Yeagley, the reigning national coach of the year.

But it just seems odd that the one program you really do not normally give much cause for concern is the one that is struggling the most.

IU opened the season as the No. 1 team in the nation and then knocked off SMU in its opener.

Since then though, the Hoosiers are in a bit of a funk.

The UCLA loss came despite the fact that IU had a man advantage over the final 15 minutes of regulation and overtime. I don't pretend to know a lot about soccer. The fact that I'm writing an IU Insider Blog column on it alone is surprising even to me.

But I'm guessing when you have a man advantage for that long of a period of time it's pretty much equivalent to an indefinite power play. I think generally you're supposed to take advantage and pull out a victory in that situation.

Especially when you're playing at home in front of the largest crowd in school history. But give credit to the Bruins. They pulled it out, despite being a player down, and posted the victory.

The loss dropped IU to No. 8 in the nation and Friday night it played No. 18 UAB. Indiana seemed to have control of the match throughout and led 1-0 going into the game's final minute. But UAB got a penalty kick with 47 seconds to play that resulted in the game-tying goal that forced overtime.

In overtime, the Blazers found a way to win and secured the 2-1 triumph. Again, it was a monumental win for UAB which played before its largest crowd in history, too.

So IU is 1-2 and returns to Bloomington five of its next six games. The only game not at IU in that stretch will be played at Butler. Sunday, IU plays host to West Virginia at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

Chances are the defending national champions will take the punch to the gut, bounce back and be just fine.

It just seems odd that the one team you wouldn't have thought you would have worried too much about is the one team that's struggling the most right now.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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