The Indiana men's soccer team hosted No. 7 Louisville on Tuesday, looking to turn around a three-game losing streak. 90 minutes later, the Hoosiers fell into a deeper hole, falling to the Cardinals 3-0
A majority of the first half held nothing for either team, as they traded looks at each other's goals without truly testing the keepers. As the half wound down, the momentum was in Indiana's favor when they conceded their first corner kick of the match, and it was all downhill from there.
The Cardinals were able to take that set piece and open the scoring, as the ball was crossed into the box and Daniel Keller gained an advantage over the Indiana defense. He was able to take the cross off his head and tap the ball just over Michael Soderlund's outstretched hands.
"I think we did well the first half and created opportunities, so I don't think that first goal got us down too much," Dylan Mares said. "I think we had our heads up."
Mares was expected to be a story line in the game, as he spent his first year in college playing for Louisville before transferring to Indiana. He only had two shots for the game, and neither of them were on frame, as the Louisville defense was able to keep him under lock and key.
Instead, what would be a major question was the absence of Tommy Thompson, who was out of the game following a knee injury sustained during the Wisconsin game. Thompson, the team's leading scorer, could have provided the offensive lift the team so desperately needed all night
The second half held more drama than the first for the minimal fans in attendance, after only four shots were on target for both sides in the first period.
25 seconds into the first half, Louisville attempted to add to their lead as Andrew Brody got off a shot that Soderlund was able to save.
The next four shots came from the Hoosiers, but the three that were headed for home were all saved by keeper Joachim Ball.
The 74th minute showed Louisville a chance to extend its lead, as the Cardinals came out on the counter attack following a saved shot from Femi Hollinger-Janzen. They quickly worked the ball down the field and caught the Indiana defense on its feet. Marlon Hairston was able drive home his shot on an assist from Zach Foxhoven.
The nail in the coffin came when just over two minutes later, Hairston wove through the defense and returned the favor to Foxhoven, laying the ball off to him for the third and final goal of the game.
With the fourth straight loss, the Hoosiers are struggling to find answers to how to turn things around.
"I think it has been [a lack of focus]," defender Drew Schall said. "Continuously losing, you kind of get down on yourself, and we need to get out of this slump."
"18-to-18 it was another really good performance," coach Todd Yeagley said. "But our composure in the final third was average at best, and we aren't going to win many games with that.
"You walk away wondering where things could be better. We have to remain positive, and it's a difficult challenge for this team right now. You keep telling them what to do, and they do so much that you want them to do, and they are not being rewarded. That's hard."
The Hoosiers face an uphill battle to get out of this rut, as they travel to Virginia Commonwealth University on Friday to take on another formidable opponent.
"We just need to focus on the team, and make sure every person is bought into what we are trying to accomplish," Mares commented. "We have to take it game by game. Everyone wants to win, and it's hard, taking all these losses when we know we have a good team, but I know we can bounce back from this."