With Indiana's 3-0 win over Northwestern on Friday, the Hoosiers took what could be the first step in saving the story of the season.
Not only was that win the first away from Bill Armstrong Stadium this season, but it could provide the momentum this team so desperately needs entering the Big Ten Tournament later this week. The Hoosiers will need to the win the tournament to have any semblance of a chance to defend their national title, and coming off of this win on the road could provide just the right push.
I'm not saying that the Hoosiers now are the most dangerous team to look out for, but if they are able to win their next game, the following opponents need to look out, because those fans who follow this program know that when a team gets hot in November, they tend to make a push for the College Cup.
Even last year, the Hoosiers struggled down the stretch of the regular season and didn't seem to have anything going for them entering the NCAA tournament, losing their final game of the regular season along with bowing out in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. After entering the field for the NCAA tournament, the path included games against both Notre Dame and North Carolina, teams that the Hoosiers had struggled to figure out as of late. As the Hoosiers gritted out win after win, the team picked up steam and momentum, and rode that streak all the way to the national championship.
But before a repetition can came even close to becoming reality, the Hoosiers must win three straight games in Columbus, Ohio, a streak that this year's team isn't familiar with.
It hasn't been familiar with many wins at all this season, as Indiana sits on a dismal 6-11-1 regular season record. Many of those losses were decided in the final ten minutes, where Indiana would allow either the game-tying or winning goal, and the players would trudge back to the locker room shaking their heads in disbelief.
That disbelief is what has held this team back from putting on a full 90 minute performance each time it takes the field. I don't care how many times I've heard the players or coaches say that they hold firm belief in this team. Until Friday, I hadn't seen one complete game from the squad, and that all has to do with their mentality. The talent has been there, and every person who has watched the team play knows that. But since the results wouldn't go their way, the players got inside their own heads and that prevented them from jumping the hurdle.
The win over Northwestern could change all of that. Not only because of the result, but the fact that the team was able to keep the opposition out of the net should provide wonders of confidence to a team that has struggled at the back. This 3-0 score line is exactly what the doctor ordered, and what Todd Yeagley so desperately longed for.
What this team needs now is for leadership to rear its head. All across the pitch, forwards and fullbacks alike need to be in constant communication with those around them, and not take anything for granted. Midfielders need to be aware of who is pressing forward and when to fall back and help cover the counterattack. Many players have been in this "win or go home" situation, and they know how to prevail; they just need to bring the others up to speed and play as a unit.
Could it be too little too late? Absolutely. But the chance is there for Indiana to change their fortunes. The goals needed to win will come, that much is for certain. The only question will be if the mentality of the defense will solidify into a formidable enough wall to keep enough goals out.