Slow starts plague IU soccer

While the offense looks to provide more sparks early, the goalkeeper spot has become a new obstacle for Indiana to overcome.

The biggest question entering Sunday's men's soccer match was whether or not the Hoosiers were finally going to start putting the ball into the back of the net.

With four goals coming in 90 minutes, that question seems to finally have been solved. However, allowing five goals in the same match on their own field brings up even more questions to tackle.

The Indiana midfield was heralded as one of the best in the nation entering this year, as they returned every starter as well as adding transfer Dylan Mares into the picture. The task that was set before them was to pick up the loss of goal production that forward Eriq Zavaleta took with him to the MLS.

Over the first three matches, the Hoosiers struggled to score, netting only three goals in the contests and having a 1-2 record to show for it.

It wasn't for a lack of chances, as Indiana has had plenty of those. The frustrating part is that the final touches haven't been there. Whether it be inches from a player's foot or a mistimed run, Indiana could have put in many more than they have and be sitting at 4-0 right now.

Another part of the problem has been Indiana's slow starts. The Hoosiers seem to come out in the first 45 a completely different team and they wear their nerves on their sleeves. They seem to lack purpose in their possession and can't string together any form of true attack until the final minutes of the half.

In the second halves, Indiana looks like it is up to the challenge, and they look strong in moving the ball forward, pressing into the final third with authority. And in this past Sunday's match against West Virginia, it is where the Hoosiers scored three goals to level the score at 4-4 at the end of regulation.

Once Indiana figures out how to start quicker, it will be a larger force to be reckoned with. When it is attacking well, IU tends to switch sides of the field and open up spaces for each other in doing so, rather than trying to work on one side of the field until it breaks through.

The style of attack that worked most successfully on Sunday was when Jacob Bushue was playing as a winger and shooting up the side of the field rather than the middle. This brought the tying goal as well as several other chances to notch a game winner. If the team would start with this type of attack and then move to being more direct, it may find more success towards the beginning of games.

The newest obstacle for the Hoosiers is the question mark placed next to Michael Soderlund, the goalkeeper who had been starting until Sunday. Apparently he was injured during the game at UAB, and was unable to perform to the best of his ability going into the last match, which is why freshman Colin Webb earned his first start as a Hoosier.

While no one doubts Webb's abilities, especially coach Todd Yeagley, the keeper switch definitely had an effect on the communication among the defense, as the Mountaineers were able to seemingly score at will.

Moving forward into this weekend's matches, Soderlund is still day-to-day, which gives the starting defense time to create chemistry with Webb. Once that is established, the Hoosiers should have no troubles finding that first shutout. All they need to do is keep their focus and spread out their attack. If they play to their diversity in ability, the goals will come, and the wins will soon follow. Top Stories