ST. LOUIS–Jon Roeckle gave both teams the lead Friday night, as the Saint Louis University junior defender’s own goal propelled Indiana to a season-opening 2-1 win Friday night at Robert R. Hermann Stadium.
Junior midfielder A.J. Corrado received a pass on the left flank from fellow junior midfielder Jacob Bushue. Corrado’s cross into the box found the back of the net in the 67th minute because as Roeckle attempted to clear the ball, he headed it in a harmful trajectory.
He staked his team to a lead in the 22nd minute.
Sophomore midfielder Bryce Kingsley took a pass down the left sideline, at the edge of the 18 extended. His cross found Roeckle wide open. His shot was deflected, and senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner could not recover back to his right.
That sent the crowd of 5,346 into a fervor.
“It’s so tough to come out here on opening night for SLU,” Corrado said. “They had an unbelievable crowd, and that fueled them, fueled their intensity. They were extremely tough to play against. That first 30 minutes, they were all over the place. They went up early. We were calm.
“It’s so hard to keep up the type of pressure they were putting on.”
The Hoosiers equalized in the 34th minute. Corrado’s relentless hustle created a chance for sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta. The Westfield, Ind., native’s shot rolled under the arm of Billikens’ goalkeeper Nick Shackleford, off the inside of the post and into the back of the net.
Junior defender Matt McKain started the play, as he served a ball into the box from the right flank, about 30 yards from goal. A Billiken defender won the 50-50 ball, heading it back towards the near side. Corrado pursued the ball as it rolled toward the intersection of the 18-yard-box and the end line.
He dispossessed his opponent, and found the sophomore forward at the top of the box.
“I took a glance up, we had a couple guys in the box,” Corrado said. “Eriq’s a great finisher. I know if I can find him in the box, something good’s probably gonna happen.”
IU Coach Todd Yeagley said his team possessed the ball with greater purpose in the second half.
“The second half, we started to show what we could do,” the third-year coach said. “Not where we need to be, but it’s the first game. We need to get results along the way. It was a gutsy performance in moments that we needed. That’s going to get us wins when we’re not at our best.
“In the first half, I thought we were way too passive and not assertive enough in the final third. That’s what we need to see in the second half is more of that.”
Sophomore defender Drew Schall started 13 games in the midfield last year in his freshman season at Evansville. He started his first game as a back in place of sophomore Patrick Doody, injured in practice on Tuesday.
Corrado praised Schall’s performance.
“It was hard for all of us,” Corrado said. “He came in and did a great job. It was not an easy game by any means, especially as a defender. He came in and did an awesome job.”
Schall said he did what he had to do for the team. The environment didn’t affect him.
“The atmosphere was great,” he said. “It’s kind of something, in the midst of a game, you just have to X out and you can only see the 22 players on the field. You’ve just got to go from there.”
The Hoosiers survived an onslaught in the final four minutes, as the Billikens attempted two shots and took two corners. On the first of the two, junior midfielder Harrison Petts saved a goal, as he headed the ball off the line and into the air.
Soffner claimed it.
“A great way to start the season,” Corrado said.
Added Schall,” It’s huge. I think it shows what it really takes to be an Indiana Hoosier.”
Yeagley said he was proud of Soffner, coming back to his hometown and “make some great saves and play steady all night. I was really happy for him.”