To say Friday night's events were a failure is completely wrong. 774 people showed up to watch the IUPUI soccer program - both men and women - take on in-state foes. Valparaiso's men and Indiana State's women both came to play, bringing a decent chunk of fans for both sides. The failure comes when you examine the record (0-2) and statistics of the on-field play from Friday night.
Ladies first, of course.
The women came out firing on all cylinders, keeping possession in the attacking third for about 11 minutes in the first half. Suddenly, Indiana State made two substitutions, a defensive midfielder for an attacking midfielder and a defender for a forward. This change all but stopped the IUPUI attack. From that point (11:40) until the Indiana State goal on a penalty kick (31:41), IUPUI managed just one shot to ISU's four. For the entire match, IUPUI was out shot 16-6, including a 25:30 stretch with zero (0) IUPUI shots. In the last ten minutes, the Lady Jaguars were just out of gas on both sides of the ball. There were some chances, but only one shot in that time (80:26).
The biggest thing I saw as a problem was passing. (Get ready for more of this in the guy's review.) Coach Chris Johnson had told Student on Sports that his ladies needed to stick to putting the ball to feet as opposed to trying to put it over-the-top. That didn't happen. If I had to put a percent on successful over-the-top passes, I would probably say 20 percent.
The game started off all IUPUI, but quickly slipped away. If they'd like to regain last year's success, they're going to need to do a hell of a lot more than last night.
The men's team was actually first to play last night, and started off well. Actually, they played pretty well all night. Their biggest problem is definitely their passing. (Remember? Yeah. I told you. Here it is.) They were passing like they didn't care. Soft, dainty (yep, dainty) touches that hardly made it off their toe. Now, I know they care. Come on. But their passes just didn't have the legs they needed. If they weren't tapping the ball back and forth, the men were sending the ball over the top in an attempt to play through Perez Agaba. Unfortunately, this perfect game plan was executed imperfectly.
Agaba is one of the fastest, smartest college players I've seen in a long time. In fact, he reminds me of a younger Blaise Nkufo. Boney, fast, and he draws at least one shadow every match. The struggle thus far, and definitely against Valparaiso, has been finding a successful way to get him the ball in the attacking third. He ended up on defensive duty at least twice last night, something that - for any team - is a bad thing. Your best attacking forward should not be relegated to playing at his own 18.
It was a rough weekend to say the least.
Right now the IUPUI Women's Volleyball team is taking on IPFW in their share of Big Bold Jaguar weekend. The men will play footy again Sunday at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, the women play Sunday at home against Kent State.