The University of Indianapolis men’s soccer team continued its recent success in conference play this past weekend, as it claimed a pair of Great Lakes Valley Conference wins at home. The first victory came against the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars by a final score of 1-0, while the second was claimed in blowout fashion over the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles, 5-0.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Andrew Verhonik took the win in goal for both matches, allowing nothing past him during the weekend. In the first match, Verhonik did not have to make a single save, and against USI, he made four.
The Greyhounds picked up two wins against conference opponents the previous weekend. The first came against the McKendree University Bearcats on Friday, Sept. 26, in a 2-1 victory, while the second came against the Bellarmine University Knights on Sunday, Sept. 28, also in a 2-1 victory.
UIndy’s second victory of that weekend against the Knights in Louisville, Ky., began with a quick score in the sixth minute by redshirt junior Casey Zimmerman, on a pass from junior back Daniel Wellmann, as the Greyhounds jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. The goal was Zimmerman’s first of the season, and Wellman gained his second assist of the year.
UIndy held the lead throughout the first half and added to its score with a second goal in the 66th minute by sophomore forward Jacob Meyer on a pass from senior forward Ngwese Ebangwese. The goal was Meyer’s second of the season, as Ebangwese tallied his third assist. The Knights quickly struck back in the 67th minute, but that was not enough to help them come back in the match, and the Greyhounds held on for a 2-1 victory.
The Greyhounds’ defense was a positive statistical factor in the match, as Verhonik grabbed three saves and the team allowed just four shots on goal.
In its first victory of that weekend, UIndy travelled to Lebanon, Ill., for a match against the Bearcats and got out to a slow start. McKendree drew first blood with a goal in the ninth minute. UIndy answered late in the first half with a goal by Ebangwese off a free kick by junior forward Patrick O’Brien. Ebangwese’s goal was his second of the season, while O’Brien gained his first assist.
Wellmann sealed the game for UIndy with a goal in the 77th minute, which was his second of the season. McKendree could not respond during the remainder of the match, and the Greyhounds won 2-1.
UIndy’s defense proved statistically effective in that match as well, as Verhonik had two saves and the team only allowed four shots on goal.
During the first few weeks, UIndy had a slow start to the season, with an initial record of 1-3-2. Head Men’s Soccer Coach John Higgins and Ebangwese said that they both believed the team’s 4-0 win against the Missouri S&T Miners on Sunday, Sept. 21, was a significant turning point.
“We changed our tactics a little bit,” Higgins said. “I think what we changed was to better suit our guys. X’s and O’s aside, our mentality, our intensity and our desire were much better than they had been.”
The change proved to be effective, as UIndy climbed back to .500 with the two wins over the Bearcats and Knights, improving their record to 3-2-1.
Ebangwese said that he believes the team has recovered from its slow start.
“A lot of us went in [this season] with an expectation that teams this time around were going to be more prepared for us,” he said. “That and the amount of newcomers we brought in, and trying to find the chemistry [with them], helped make the start a little more rough. But I think we’re on track now.”
The Greyhounds will return to action this Friday, Oct. 10, as they will travel to take on the Quincy University Hawks in another conference match, which is set to begin at 8:30 p.m.