Following a disappointing loss to No. 21 Michigan State at home, No. 2 Indiana starts with a clean slate at 1 p.m. Sunday against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
”It’s a new season,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “I told our guys the first season is over. Their body of work is really strong.”
The No. 6-seed Hoosiers (11-3-4, 3-3-2 Big Ten) face the No. 3-seed Wildcats (9-3-5, 4-1-3 Big Ten) in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinal with the winner advancing to face the winner of Michigan-Ohio State. It’s a rematch of IU’s home game on Sept. 28, where it played to a 1-1 double-overtime draw with Northwestern at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
At the time, that result gave the Hoosiers their third draw of the season and a 1-1-2 record at home. They finished with an overall home record of 4-3-3 this season and went undefeated on the road with a record of 7-0-1.
Northwestern’s home record also happens to be 7-0-1, but playing on the road still might be better than playing at home for IU.
”It certainly would’ve been nice to be at home,” Yeagley said. “But we’re not intimidated to go on the road.”
Playing on the road will be common for the Hoosiers, as they are a lower seed in this year’s conference tournament. Their side of the bracket presents opportunities for rematches against other Big Ten teams which gave them trouble in the regular season, should they advance.
”There are a few we’d like back this year from the Big Ten,” Yeagley said. “And we’ll have that opportunity.”
As if the Hoosiers needed any more motivation, all three of their losses in conference play this season have been by one goal.
“Hopefully we can turn it on, show some character and I think we will make a run at it,” Doody said. “Our record speaks for itself. We can play. We just have to bring it every single game.”
It’s almost the same situation as a year ago in the conference tournament for the Hoosiers, the only differences being their seeding (No. 5) and overall record (6-11-1). En route to winning last year’s Big Ten tournament title, IU defeated three teams it had lost to in the regular season.
”It reminds me of last year in the Big Ten,” IU sophomore midfielder Tanner Thompson said. “We had a few losses, and all of our losses have been in the Big Ten this year. It’ll be nice to have a little redemption tour if we can play some teams we lost and hit them back in the Big Ten Tournament.”
In order to advance, IU will have to contain Northwestern junior forward Joey Calistri who leads the Wildcats with six goals. He also had the equalizer against the Hoosiers on Sept. 28. Junior midfielder Cole Missimo is second with five goals.
It’s a challenge for the Hoosiers, but one they will be ready for.
”11-3-4 is not a bad record, but it's done with, over,” IU senior defender Patrick Doody said. “Now the fun starts.”