Sunday, May 29, 2022

Indy Eleven vs AFC Ann Arbor - 01.04


- Opponent: AFC Ann Arbor
- Location: Saline High School
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 2-2 D

- Starting XI: Wood, Chester, Kraszula, Leonard, Chatterton, Isger, Bahr, McLaughlin, Lynch, Soderstrom, Bulatovic
- Substitution: McCarthy, Ro 40' (Isger - injury); McCalligett 69' (Bahr); McCarthy, Ra 69' (Bulatovic); Williams 69' (Lynch); Rogers 69' (Chester)

- Unused: Phillips

- Scoring Summary:
ANN -  Grabias 1' (17 seconds) (assist Berrah)
ANN - Akiror 53' (PK)
IND - Williams 76' (assist McCalligett)
IND - McLaughlin 82' (assist McCarthy, Ro)

- Bookings:
ANN - Akiror 80' (Yellow)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

In just three games into their history, we have come to expect Indy to be the team that scores the goals and rarely concedes, but Indy conceded early goals in each half and had to claw their way into a result. Conceding early is describing it lightly, as Indy allowed the third fastest goal conceded in club history, allowing Ann Arbor to score in just the 30th second (the clock on the screen indicated it was the 17th second, but it didn't start on time. The 30th second is based on my timer when the referee blew the opening kick whistle.). This unfortunate early goal ranks behind the 10 second goal that the 2021 men's squad conceded against Atlanta United 2 and the 28th second goal that the 2014 men's squad conceded against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, but ahead of the 36th second goal that this year's men's squad conceded against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Interestingly (or not surprisingly), every single goal that the club has conceded in the 1st minute of a game has happened on the road. 

Indy then conceded a penalty kick goal in the 53rd minute, putting them into full scramble mode the rest of the game. I'm going to need to do a better job when I watch these games for the key statistics, because the opposing team's twitter feeds, the league's website, and the telecast are woefully inadequate and delayed, but it seemed like Indy had the majority of the possession, the majority of the shots on goal, and yet found themselves in a 2-nil hole. 

Fortunately, this team is built to score goals, and from multiple people. There was no indication from the stream that Indy ever substituted during the game, but given the long pause in the 64th minute, Coach Dolinsky utilized every single one of his remaining substitutes that don't wear goalkeeper gloves. I don't know who all came in for whom, but Indy brought on Williams, McCarthy (Rachel), Rogers, and McCalligett, who have now accounted for 5 of the team's 13 goals, while keeping in Soderstrom who accounts for another 5 of the team's goals. If Indy lost this game, it wasn't going to be because they weren't fighting for it.

Williams brought the game to within a goal from a long-distance cross from fellow second-half substitute McCalligett, with a header around the 6-yard box where she simply wanted the ball more and got higher than her defender. She headed it back across the goal, leaving the Ann Arbor goalkeeper without any chance to get back to it. The dreaded 2-nil lead was reduced to a single goal with Indy having all the momentum. 

Sometimes with that momentum, a player takes a shot where we all shout, "NO! NO! NO! YES! YES! YES!" That was exactly the case when McLaughlin gathered a ball from Robyn McCarthy, took one touch to push the ball to her favored left foot, and released a blast from 35-yards out (football lines are good for something...) that the Ann Arbor goalkeeper couldn't handle, and spun its way over the goal line. Comeback complete. There were two things that I noticed about the sequence. McCalligett gets the ball in a recycle of an attack and you can see McCarthy signal to get the ball to McLaughlin. McCalligett (could we have a couple more Mc's on the team...) instead passes to McCarthy who immediately puts the ball in a place where McLaughlin can do something dangerous with it.
However, it looks like in the replay, that McCarthy is actually looking at McCalligett when she passes to McLaughlin. This is key because a couple minutes earlier this same sequence of passes took place, but because the defense wasn't pulled over towards McCalligett or McCarthy enough, McLaughlin had to keep the ball moving to the other side of the field. The no-look pass from McCarthy froze the defense enough for McLaughlin to be able to do something with it. Subtle thing from McCarthy, but highly effective. The other thing that happened on that play is that when McLaughlin releases her blast, Williams is making a curving run to keep herself onside. I'm not sure that she was successful, but after the goalkeeper spills the ball, it wouldn't have mattered. So Williams was the only player, from either team, to follow the shot from McLaughlin. Had the goalkeeper spilled the ball forward, rather than backwards, Williams would have had an uncontested shot on goal. That's all about effort, and this team has it in abundance.

Given the hole that they found themselves within the first 30 seconds of the game, and the deeper hole they dug for themselves with the 2nd Ann Arbor goal, to get any kind of result from the game would have been daunting for any other team. However, the amount of chances that this team can generate from their players gives the impression that they might not ever be out of a game. There were a few ill-advised shots that might have been better served to look for a pass to a teammate, but you can't fault this team for its desire to score goal. 

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta (AFC Ann Arbor site)
I'm not going to do this forever, but I, once again, want to highlight one of the opposing players. If you kept hearing the, very excitable, announcer yell the name Ricketts and noticed her speeding past and around the Indy defense, this is a big deal because "Chloe Ricketts Becomes Youngest Player to Join AFC Ann Arbor at 14." You read that correct. She is 14 years old. So again, the opposing team has a teenager that held her own against college and beyond opponents. That's extremely impressive and highlights the benefit of what league's like the USL-W can do for young women as they move forward in their soccer careers.

Indy head back home with a well fought point from a game, and the promise of playing in front of the Brickyard Battalion. Tonight's game showed a slight chink in the armor, but this team is fun to watch. So make sure you're part of the crowd Friday night at Grand Park when the women take on Midwest United FC.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

This is another game where it is difficult to narrow it down to just a single player because a comeback like they had tonight requires a full team effort. However, I think the header by Williams, and her effort to get that header, breathed life into the attack. With the goal, Indy could see getting a positive result from the game and it spurred them forward. So tonight's GBGB goes to fellow Purdue grad, Maddy Williams.

Indy Eleven vs New Mexico United - 09.11


- Opponent: New Mexico United
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,915
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Trilk, Hackshaw (C), Jerome, Timmer, McQueen, Brown, Ingram, Powder, Fjeldberg, Arteaga, Pinho
- Substitution: Law 20' (Fjeldberg); Aguilera 62' (Ingram); Asante 62' (Powder); Cochran 76' (Jerome) 
- Unused: Meredith, Ault, Michael 

- Scoring Summary:
NM - Portillo 38' (Wehan)
NM - Own Goal 63' (Jerome)
IND - Pinho 80' (assist Asante)

- Bookings:
IND - Arteaga 35' (Yellow) 
NM - Kiesewetter 90'+4' (Yellow)

- Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

As Greg Rakestraw likes to say, Indy had Chamber of Commerce weather for this game, but after a 2-1 loss, Coach Lowry was anything but pleasant. I mean, he was his normal accommodating self and answered questions as well as he could, but there was a lot of heat and anger in his mood. He was unset with the result, but not upset with the way his team played. Which is fair. Indy limited New Mexico to just four shots, only two of which were on target, one in each half. Yet Indy found themselves on the wrong side of the result, partially because Indy saw a rare mistake from Jerome.

That's getting ahead of ourselves though. 

This was Indy's first league game with Trilk in goal, with Panicco having been pulled back from Nashville in time for Nashville to give him the start and victory against Louisville City FC in the U.S. Open Cup. Trilk did everything you could ask of him in his first start against a talented New Mexico team. New Mexico came to Indy for the first time, fresh off a 7-0 drubbing of Phoenix Rising on Tuesday, a game that was postponed due to COVID concerns, and featured a number of Rising academy players. More on my thoughts about Trilk later.

After a challenge for the ball, Fjeldberg did the "something is wrong with my hamstring" skip and proceeded to sit down, immediately after giving the universal sign in football for "prepare to make a substitution." The trainer agreed with him and he went to the bench in the 20th minute with an apparent hamstring injury, and Nicky Law entered. Fjeldberg was having success on the left side of the field, but its not like you lose any talent when Law enters the game. A minute after entering, Law put a dime towards the 6-yard box that Pinho headed off the crossbar. A few inches lower and this game likely had a different appearance. During halftime, I saw Fjeldberg walk back onto the field from the locker room and he wasn’t walking with much limp, so hopefully his injury is minor. Though, he also walked straight across the field, pausing briefly to talk to Asante, and went to one of the seats and immediately sat down. So while the injury might not be as bad as initially feared, his mental aspect of the tweak was still a bit fresh at halftime. As usual, Coach didn't say much about the status of the injury after the game.

In the 35th minute, a yellow card was shown to Arteaga for dissent. Shocking. Not that he received the card, shocking that it was only his first yellow card of the season, given his energy level and his propensity to vehemently argue calls that he doesn't think are correct. Which are most.

A few minutes later, and Indy found themselves trailing, somewhat against the run of play, but set up nicely by Wehan as he put it in a spot where Portillo could one time it in front of the Indy defense. That is one of those goals that Indy didn’t really do much incorrectly from a defensive standpoint, but the pass and shot was just a bit better. You don't like to give up goals, but sometimes, you just have to chalk it up to an incrementally better play by your opponent than by you.

You might go the rest of this season and not see a mistake by Jerome like he made today. You can blame it on the field or him looking two steps ahead of the play in front of him, but to watch a simple pass back to him go under his foot and into Indy's own goal is something that just doesn't happen. It's a rare mistake by Jerome that gave United a second goal and a steep 2-nil mountain to climb against a very stout United defense. 

There are times, and this game had several of those times, when Indy's attacking players were not in sync with each other. Passes were not where they wanted them. Shots were taken when a pass was preferred. When they were in sync, they looked dangerous, bringing the United out of their shape, and forcing the NM players to chase shadows. The guys just weren’t clinical enough to get the ball in the goal enough to overcome United’s first goal and the freebie from Jerome.

We all love Arteaga. We love his effort, his passion, and his goal scoring ability, but if I'm being honest today, he made some bad decisions in this game. The yellow was unnecessary, but more of my issue came towards the end of the game as Indy was chasing the result. There was a sequence where the ball went out for an Indy corner kick. Arteaga went to take it. Asante ran over to relieve him, but Arteaga brushed him off. There is absolutely ZERO reason for Arteaga to take a corner kick with 5'-2" Asante on the field. Asante isn't going to win a ton of headers from corner kicks, but can put in a perfect corner kick. The ensuing throw-in that happened after the kick went out not far from Arteaga and he, again, waved off other players who came over to take it. In this case, that player was Hackshaw, who we've seen be effective with long throw-ins. Arteaga's was effective, and Hackshaw can get to headers and is talented, but I, personally, would rather see Hackshaw taking that throw with my goal-poaching striker in the mix within the 18-yard box when I need that goal. I love his passion and desire to win, but neither of those two restarts should have been from him, but rather, TO him. I'm sure being 11 games into the season without a goal is affecting him and he's trying to affect the game as much as he can, but those are not the times to do it.

Indy pulled one back in the 80th minute with yet another goal from Pinho on a nice cross from Asante. Solo has now added to his career points total in less than 40 minutes of game action. Let's hope that continues.
Indy fall at home for the first time this season and now spend the next month away as the turf at Carroll Stadium gets replaced. That's not been officially announced by the team nor by IUPUI, but it seems to be a worst kept secret than to find out Indy fans hate Hoppenot. When Indy return home on July 2nd to Miami FC, it will be on new turf. Next week, though, Indy travel to Charleston to play another struggling team in the hopes of getting today's loss out of their system.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
It seems a bit strange to be handing out a Game Beckons Game Ball to a goalkeeper in a 2-1 loss, but Trilk deserves a lot of credit for the way he played today. He made good decisions on when to come out for balls, he was decisive, and didn't make any real errors. Even the own goal wasn't his fault. As the ball started back to the normally rock solid Jerome, Trilk made the right play and put himself in the position to back up Jerome. It just pushed him too far away when the ball went under Jerome's foot. Again, it feels weird to do it in a loss, but I think Trilk deserves the GBGB for his play today after having not played a single minute in league play before Panicco's departure. I don't know if it will remain his position with the addition of Meredith from Nashville, but he has played well, despite his 2 goals against average. 

Additional Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Indy Eleven vs New York Red Bulls II - 09.10


- Opponent: New York Red Bulls II
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,217
- Final Score: 2-0 W

- Starting XI: Panicco, Hackshaw (C), Jerome, Timmer, McQueen, Brown, Ingram, Powder, Aguilera, Fjeldberg, Arteaga
- Substitution: Pinho 79' (Fjeldberg); Asante 79' (Powder); Michael 85' (Aguilera); Cochran 90'+3' (Arteaga) 
- Unused: Trilk, Ault, Law 

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Own Goal 30' (Castillo)
IND - Fjeldberg 42' (assist Powder)

- Bookings:
NYRBII - Williams 37' (Yellow)
IND - Powder 45' (Yellow) 
NYRBII - Rafanello 73' (Yellow)

- Referee: Kevin Fikar
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

After six games without a loss, Indy went to Memphis last week and came home without any points, falling by a score of 2-1. With Indy trying to bring back the fortress aspect of The Mike, a return to home cooking against the last place team in the conference is what Indy wanted to get the Memphis loss out of their memory. However, this is a New York Red Bulls II team that has played well, but has let teams score late goals against them. When you’re playing a team that has struggled to get results, and is desperate to turn good games into good results, it’s good to try and get ahead of them early so that you get in their heads that you have no intention of winning/tying it late. Indy tried to do just that with some early shots and the early control of the action, but couldn’t get on the board. 

Within the first 15 minutes, Indy controlled the game, but NYRBII had a few good opportunities, all of which could be argued were against the run of play. The next fifteen minutes felt more even as NYRBII appeared to have weathered the initial effort from Indy. The Eleven were still getting chances, but it was more equitable between the two teams. Sometimes, as the game starts to have that swing in momentum, you’ll take whatever advantage you can. In the 30th minute, Indy was awarded for their early efforts with an own goal against NYRBII's Mullings from a long throw from Hackshaw. With the ball in the air, Arteaga gave Mullings a slight bump that put Mullings just slightly in a different spot than he would have preferred. As a result, the ball skipped off his head and between the post and Chan.

It may not be a glamourous way to get a lead, but as Coach Lowry put it after the game, "so the long throw, it works. When you put the ball in the box, things happen. So we'll take that goal, we'll take any type of goal." Hackshaw's ability with long throws is its own weapon for the team, from both a long throw from the corner flag and from an attacking effort to avoid an offside call. 
"I'm a big proponent of the long throw. ... I would love to get one from both sides because I think they just generate pressure and they make the other team have to defend away from their goal. ... I think we'll see a couple more goals this season from those things." 

As the half wound down, Fjeldberg doubled Indy's lead after Powder led him perfectly behind the NYRBII defense, but not in a place where Chan could have come off his line to get to it before Fjeldberg. Fjeldberg calmly slotted the ball to his right and Indy went into the locker room in the driver's seat. 

With cloudy skies developing in the west and the abandonment rules potentially looming again, a third goal by Indy was going to have an effect on how the teams played. Which is why it was worrisome for Indy when NYRBII had a sitter that was pushed wide of the goal in the 46th minute. Panicco did just enough to make it a difficult shot with a very small window, but the 2-0 lead nearly went down the drain before the guys picked up a post-halftime sweat.

While the chances for Indy slowed in the second half, Indy generally felt to be in control for the majority of it. What if I told you that tonight was the first time all season that Indy won the possession battle? Not by much, but Indy had more possession, and had it in dangerous spots. 

We're starting to see Indy's ability on display. "We're getting there. We're not where we need to be yet, but we're in the right direction. We just can't lose games like we did last weekend." Indy’s interplay in the second half was crisp, providing them with opportunities to get through and around the quick pressing of the NYRBII players. This was one of the first games this season where I felt Indy's talent was on full display and that the players look to be getting in sync with each other. I can think of just a couple of unforced errors where guys weren't on the same page with their passes.

The other thing that I noticed and Coach mentioned in the post-game was Indy's ability to take multiple bites at the proverbial apple. So many times before, Indy will have a shot and just a single shot. Tonight, corner kicks were being recycled back into the box, players were getting to deflections, etc. Coach described them as waves of attacks.

"So it was good to see us get those waves of attacks. Against Memphis, I thought we played well, we went forward, we got a shot and we didn't move up behind the ball. So when they cleared it, they kind of just carried up themselves and now we were defending. So we worked this week, yeah we're going to go forward and when we go forward, we gotta join each other so if they clear it, if we lose it, we're there to get a second, third, or fourth chance. You saw that tonight. ... Tonight, they showed that they learned."

Indy is still not fully healthy. Rebellon and Briggs are the only ones listed on the Injury Report, but Pinho is dealing with a knee injury that is keeping him from full fitness. Law was on the bench, but is dealing with a calf issue. Ayoze tweaked his hamstring during the week. Asante is barely match fit at this point. Let all of that sink in on how deep this team is that all of those guys can be dealing with some level of injury and the team is still competing and winning.

Indy return to The Mike next Saturday for a Memorial Day weekend game against New Mexico United, with a 4:00 PM start time. Having been born in New Mexico myself, I'm looking forward to this game. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball
The goal that didn't count, but look at Chan's face.
I jokingly want to give this to Hackshaw's Throw-In, but Fjeldberg deserves this game's GBGB. As it was, he finished the game with one goal, but looked like he could have had a couple more, including one that was called off (Cue the Premature Smoke) for being barely offside. Fjeldberg is one of the guys on this team whose motor is non-stop (Aguilera and Ingram are two more) and being able to see the ball go in during each of the last two games is going to provide some confidence moving forward. Fjeldberg gets whistled for a lot of offside calls, but that's because he's constantly on the edge of the defenders, forcing them into trapping decisions. Tonight, he beat that trap perfectly and outraced the defenders to the ball for his goal. 

Additional Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)

Friday, May 20, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Racing Louisville - 01.03


- Opponent: Racing Louisville
- Location: Lynn Family Sports Vision & Training Center
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 2-0 W

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Robyn), Cherry, Kraszula, McLaughlin, Bahr, Lynch, Rogers, Soderstrom, Williams, McCarthy (Rachel)
- Substitution: Leonard 45' (Cherry); Chester 65' (McCarthy Ra); Bulatovic 68' (Bahr); Dean 68' (Williams); Barnett 85' (Soderstrom)
- Unused: Reason, Dewey

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Soderstrom ??' (unassisted)
IND - Soderstrom ??' (assist Chester)

- Bookings:

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

No stream, which meant that Indy fans had to rely on Racing Louisville to tweet about the game. They, however, tweeted as if they had to pay money for every letter. So all we saw was the start of game, a LOU-centric tweet 24 minutes later, Soderstrom's goal (I assume right before halftime, but there was no indication of time), halftime, a few Racing subs, Soderstrom's 2nd goal, a tweet about a dog (and I think some NWSL players), Soderstrom's penalty kick being saved, and end of game. 90 minutes of action, 9 tweets. Awesome.

So we'll just have this recap indicate that Indy Eleven won by a score of 2-0, and that an Indy fan's dislike of Louisville sports team was not altered after this game. Here are a few embedded tweets from Racing's infrequent updates. 

Soderstrom puts Indy on the board first, close to halftime.

Soderstrom doubles Indy's lead (I'm guessing around the 75th minute).

Soderstrom is human and Racing's Macy Enneking saves Soderstrom's penalty kick.
With the win, Indy continue their strong start to the season, and Wood gets her first clean sheet of the season. Indy head to Michigan next Saturday for a game against AFC Ann Arbor. Hopefully, someone in Ann Arbor can throw an iPhone on a tripod and stream something, unlike Louisville. Or at least hire a teenager to tweet about the game better than Louisville did since it seems like Racing media admin took the night off.

Regardless, another great win for Indy in the first edition of the women's LIPAFC.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

With only 9 tweets to base my opinion and the fact that she scored a brace, I have to give Soderstrom the GBGB again. Though I suspect others were worthy too.
UPDATE: Just saw the stats for the game and Racing had 24 shots, 13 being on target, which means Wood not only had her first clean sheet, but she had 13 saves in the effort. I don't know where all those shots were taken, but she still managed to make them. So Wood and Soderstrom share the reward tonight.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901 FC - 09.09


- Opponent: Memphis 901 FC
- Location: AutoZone Park
- Attendance: 3,515
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Panicco, Hackshaw (C), Cochran, Timmer, McQueen, Ingram, Aguilera, Law, Powder, Fjeldberg, Arteaga
- Substitution: Ayoze 69' (Powder); Brown 70' (Aguilera); Jerome 76' (Cochran); Briggs 76' (Ingram); Pinho 84' (Fjeldberg) 
- Unused: Trilk, Michael

- Scoring Summary:
MEM - Carroll 34' (assist Seagrist)
MEM - Kissiedou 58' (assist Kelly)
IND - Fjeldberg 66' (assist Arteaga)

- Bookings:
IND - Hackshaw 42' (Yellow) 
MEM - Paul 45' (Yellow)
IND - Ingram 74' (Yellow)
IND - Law 80' (Yellow)

- Referee: Matthew Thompson
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Let's start with my requisite statement that games in baseball fields are terrible. That being said, AutoZone Park did look slightly better than other baseball fields we've seen, but only marginally. That's not true. One half of the field, while not very wide, looked really nice. The other half looked like Oakland Roots' bicolored field. The infield side of the field was the side Indy was attacking in the first half, but didn't have a lot of possession in that portion of the field in the first half. I thought that would change in the second half when Indy was able to attack the side of the field that didn't have a pitcher's mound, but Indy only managed 3 shots (1 on target) in the second half. 

I'm sure in a detailed review of the video of this game, there were some good things from Indy. However, in general, as a whole, this game felt like a regression back to Indy's losses early in the season. Despite being a well-rested team having not played in two weeks, Indy looked like the more lethargic team at times in this game. Memphis just seemed like they wanted it more for large chunks of the game. 

It also seemed like when Indy made a mistake, they were punished for it. They were lucky that they weren't punished more often, but the two goals that Memphis scored were because MEM were playing harder or smarter. The goal in the 34th minute resulted because Indy was unable to clear a corner as MEM continued to recycle the ball. Indy was fortunate to have not conceded a goal that led to the corner as MEM carved through the defense that required some last ditch defending from Cochran on a Seagrist shot. For the goal in the 57th minute, which was Indy's first corner kick of the game, as Indy tried to do their own recycle of the corner, a poor pass from Cochran was taken by MEM to the other end of the field as if the Indy defense wasn't there and as if Panicco was completely surprised about the shot.  

This is one of those games that could have gone a long way to putting Indy firmly in the top of the table. As it is, Indy slides back down towards the playoff line, with the top 4 teams starting to create some separation. The good news for Indy is that they come back home next weekend to play a struggling to get results team in the New York Red Bulls II. Before that, the women's team will look to maintain their win streak as they play Racing Louisville in Louisville.  

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Somehow, he's only credited with 2 saves, and despite the effort on the second goal, I think the GBGB still needs to go to Panicco. Not sure if he would tell you that he played a good game, but given the chances that MEM was able to create around the Indy goal, he needs to be rewarded for keeping the game to just 2 goals. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Flint City AFC - 01.02


- Opponent: Flint City AFC
- Location: Kettering's Atwood Stadium
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 6-1 W

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Robyn), Isger, Kraszula, McLaughlin, Bahr, Lynch, Rogers, Soderstrom, Williams, McCarthy (Rachel)
- Substitution: Bulatovic 56' (McCarthy Ra); Dewey 67' (Williams); Barnett 74' (Isger); Dean 74' (Bahr)
- Unused: 

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Williams 17' (unassisted)
IND - Soderstom 25' (assist Lynch)
FLT – Gemelli 38’ (assist Lopez)
IND - Rogers 41' (assist McCarthy, Ra.)
IND - Bulatovic 71' (assist Lynch)
IND - Bulatovic 83' (assist Soderstrom)
IND - Soderstrom 90' (assist Lynch)

- Bookings:

- Referee: Nicole Green
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Let's start with an appreciation of Greg Rakestraw and the production value of the Indy Eleven home games. I didn't necessarily object to the commentary, but wow, the camera work was a bit rough for this game. At least there are cameras so that the games can be seen, so that's an important part of growing the game in this country.

Now let's talk about the field. I know why games get played on fields like the one at Kettering University, but that many lines on a field (and a different colored moat around it), makes for some difficult viewing. 

Onto the game itself...

This team is fun to watch. When I talked to Rachel McCarthy last week, she indicated that a back three lineup was a new thing for many (all?) of them. You wouldn't know it the way that the first two games have gone. Sure, Indy put a solid half-dozen goals on the board and it could have easily been at least two or three more. Getting to 10 goals in a game doesn't seem like a stretch the way this team plays. Yet, with the exception of the couple errors that lead to Flint City's goal, Indy's defensive is just as stout as the offense is explosive. McCarthy (Robyn), Isger, Leonard, McLaughlin, Bahr, etc. are all defensively sound. The defense starts with the forwards and midfield, who made it extremely difficult for Flint City to do much of anything without being under pressure. 

That's a recipe for success and a cause for worry for the opposing teams.

Midway through the second half, with Indy already up 3-1, they were content to knock the ball around and let FLT chase the ball around the field. I don't know how many touches Wood had, but the ball was routinely passed back to her as Indy slowed down the game and looked for their spots to get FLT out of their defensive shape. Once that happened, Indy attacks with pace from Williams, Soderstrom, McCarthy, and a seemingly unending string of players willing to go forward and attack FLT's goal. Even a few of the balls over the top that I thought were optimistic, somehow found Indy players and chances on goal.

One of the things that I notice and appreciate the most about this team offensively, is that because all of the forwards (and midfielders) are willing and capable finishers, there is rarely a lack of support in the box as the ball goes forward. Crosses have the ability to find somebody. Parried shots from the goalkeeper, if not sent far enough, have the chance to finding a player in position for the rebound. Every single one of the forwards is looking to shoot the ball whenever they get an open window to do so and are within 25 yards of the goal. 

I'm sure Coach Dolinsky and the team are going to strive towards a clean sheet as they get more time together, but when you can outscore your opponents 9 to 2 in the first two games, a clean sheet is just an added bonus. Which is probably why the team traveled with just a single goalkeeper to this game. I've never seen a roster that didn't include a backup goalkeeper. I know some of it is out of his hands, but there's also a sense of a bit of bravado and confidence that goes into having a single keeper in the lineup. It sound like from the broadcast that if something happened to Wood, there might not have been a formal plan on what to do. With this team, I wouldn't be surprised if the plan wouldn't be to just attack even more.

Indy continue to be on the road next week in their version of LIPAC, as they travel to Louisville to taking on the Racing Louisville's USL W team. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Who do you give the GBGB to when the team scores 6 goals, two players score 2 goals a piece, and only give up a single goal for the other team? You could roll the dice. It seems almost as fair. However, I think I'm going to give it to Soderstrom for the effort she put in throughout the 90 minutes. With the team up 5-1 in the dying minutes of the game, she was looking for another goal and she was looking for that goal to come from her. She had some passing options, but she took on her defender 1v1, left, then right, then left after leaving the defender helpless sitting on the ground and calmly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper with her left foot. Any deflection, and there were three other Indy players (Dean, Lynch, and Bulatovic) ready to pounce on the ball for their own goal. Knowing she had the support, Soderstrom was unafraid to take the chance and I love that mentality from a forward. So, she gets the nod for the GBGB, but this team makes it really difficult to give this "award."

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Kings Hammer - 01.01


- Opponent: Kings Hammer FC
- Location: Grand Park
- Attendance: 1,571
- Final Score: 3-1 W

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Robyn), Leonard (C), Cherry, Isger, McLaughlin, Bahr, Lynch, Soderstrom, Williams, McCarthy (Rachel)
- Substitution: Barnett 45' (Isger); Rogers 60' (Williams); Lindley 73' (McCarthy, Ra); Dewey 73' (Lynch)
- Unused: Reason

- Scoring Summary:
IND - McCarthy, Ra 8' (assist Soderstrom)
IND - McCarthy, Ra 17' (assist Williams)
KH – Mandy Schlueter (unassisted) 40’
IND - Soderstrom 78' (assist Barnett)

- Bookings:

- Referee: 
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

In 2014, Indy Eleven began their foray into the Indianapolis soccer landscape with a 1-1 draw against the Carolina Railhawks on a goal from Mike Ambersley in front of more than 11,000 fans. Eight years later, Indy Eleven have expanded to include a group of championship winning Academy teams, and now a USL-W team. A USL-W team that kicked off their inaugural season, for both the team and the league, last night in the event center at Grand Park. While that original men's team needed 10 games before they achieved their first win of the season, this new addition to the club needed just a single game to achieve that same result. While the +1,500 fans who were in attendance at this game may be significantly less than those in attendance at that first game in 2014, the indoor nature of the Grand Park event center provided more than enough noise as the BYB, once again, continue to turn Indy venues into home field advantage for Indy Eleven teams. The only difference between the feel of this game and the men’s games was that there was a simultaneous game taking place on Field 3, with their own set of fans adding to the noise in the facility. Oh, and the fact that the USL League office had a few more folks here for this game than most other games, including Amanda Vandervort, the President of the USL Super League and Betsy Haugh, the Directory of the USL Super League. With a Lauren Holiday tifo behind the team bench, players from the men's team (Ayoze, Arteaga, Pinho, and Michael) in the stand, and rumors of former coach Martin Rennie in the facility, Indy Eleven found the back of the net three times in route to a 3-1 victory over visiting Kings Hammer FC from the Cincinnati area.

As I said on Twitter during the game, I don't know the statistics, and they are not available as I write this (likely a function of a pre-professional league), but Indy Eleven were dominant for large stretches of this game, despite having just a single practice as a team before last night's game. The men's team took 9 games to have a player score a brace, but Rachel McCarthy managed that feat in the women's team's first game. Afterwards, she indicated that she didn't arrive to town until 3:00 AM on Wednesday morning, went to the practice later that day, and then scored the first two goals in the team's and league's history. Not a bad start for the BYU junior who decided to try and make the Indy Eleven because she enjoyed the thought of playing with her older sister, starting defender Robyn McCarthy. 

A single win does not make for a successful inaugural season, but it definitely makes for a successful start to that season. Indy Eleven is coached by Paul Dolinsky, who recently coached amateur side Lady Victory FC last season. By my count, there are 8 players on the Indy Eleven roster who were on that Lady Victory roster last year. Five of those were in last night's starting lineup. When asked if his familiarity with those players weighed into his decision to start those players, he responded, "100%. This first game, we don't know what to expect. From ourselves, from the opponent. Having that ability to have some cohesion on the field and even putting Soderstrom, Isger, and Molly all on the right side of the field, I thought was important to have girls that have played together was huge." Of those 8 women that Dolinsky pulled from Lady Victory, they composed the team captain (Leonard), the goal scorers (McCarthy and Soderstrom), the starting goalkeeper (Wood), and two of three subs, including the pacey player on the right side that set up the third goal, Barnett. As teams are still trying to get the full complement of their players in town (Indy only had Reason remaining on the bench unused, and KHFC only brought 14 players), having some consistency in what to expect from the players was an important part of last night's victory for Indy Eleven. 

Of course, it also doesn't hurt to have a starting lineup with three solid defenders, four active midfielders, and three forwards who are completely unafraid to shoot. Indy's first shot happened within the first 15 seconds. As evidenced by her two goals, McCarthy is not afraid to shoot and does it effectively. Soderstrom and Williams were unafraid, and more than willing, to take on players 1v1, which set up shots for themselves and for McCarthy. At times, Soderstrom looked like the prototypical “beat people, get to the end line, and cross the ball into the box” type player. From what I saw from her, it’s an effective strategy. Periodically, just to keep the KHFC players off guard, she took them on herself, looking for her shot. Though that could be said for all Indy’s forwards. If you’re looking for players who aren’t afraid to shoot the ball, this squad is for you. 

Indy's first goal in the 8th minute (I think it was the 9th, but we'll go with the official sources that indicate 8th) from a break. Soderstrom's initial shot was blocked, which McCarthy blasted the rebound to the right side of the keeper. The excitement of the crowd pushed both teams in the early part of this game as KHFC stepped up their own pressure after Indy's goal and nearly had their own chance in the 10th minute. In back-and-forth action, Indy took off down the field in the opposite direction and were fouled 25 yards away from goal. In one of the first moments where the potential lack of cohesion and limited time together showed, the ensuing free kick was, uh, ineffective.

Moments before KHFC pulled the game back within a goal, Indy had a nervy moment in the 33rd minute as a well-orchestrated break from KHFC after a giveaway near midfield led to a shot. The shot went through Wood’s arms and her legs, but luckily for Indy, she slowed the ball down enough for it to be pulled off the line by Leonard, keeping KHFC off the board. The relief of preventing the goal was short-lived as KHFC found their own goal in the 40th minute. KHFC's Schlueter put Leonard into the spin cycle to find just enough space to get her shot off and beyond the outstretched arms of Wood.

Moments before KHFC scored their goal, there was a moment in the 37th minute where Cherry made a run up the field and started a give-and-go with Maddy, but didn't get the "go" part correctly. It was still only the 2nd or 3rd time that I can remember where it seemed like the Indy players weren’t on the same page. Given the short duration that they have had training together, that’s the kind of play that would have been great to see pulled off, but it will get there soon. I can promise you that.

KHFC came out in the 2nd half with much more purpose on getting shots. Not all of them were effective shots, but they definitely decided to attack Indy’s defense more and forced Indy to make a few more defensive decisions. Indy still had the better of the chances at KHFC’s goal, but it was obvious that KHFC were not going to take the loss without a fight. The frenetic pace of the first half, buoyed by the atmosphere of the BYB, began to give away to tired legs, cramps, and a slower paced game in the second. Both teams had chances, but there was a little more control of the ball for both teams as they looked to unlock the defenses differently than they had in the 1st half. After Indy's goal scorer's cramps took her out of the game in the 73rd minute for Cassidy Lindley (yes, the sister of former men's team player Cam Lindley), Soderstrom found her own goal in the 78th minute and the game clinching goal. From there, the moment that I remember most was in the 80th minute when the BYB chanted V-A-R after they felt that Soderstrom's corner kick was an Olympico, crossing the line directly from her kick. In the replay, I think the second official was in a good spot and the BYB's chants were unwarranted. Funny given the preprofessional level of the USL-W league, but unwarranted nonetheless.

I know this is a site that discusses the Indy Eleven, but I need to properly acknowledge that despite their loss, the Kings Hammer FC had their own chances and are a good team. Given their limited available substitutions, their ability to chase the game late wasn't feasible because they just didn't have the stamina nor the available people to do it. That shouldn't take away from the game that they were able to play before that point. I want to also give a special recognition to KHFC’s CB Abby Unkraut, who prevented so many chances from Indy with her speed and recovery. Several times Williams or Soderstrom had their attack or momentum stopped as she stepped in front of passes, or just hustled enough to prevent anything from Indy’s attackers. For much of this game, Indy looked to be the dominant side, but KHFC have some very skilled players too; Unkraut just stood out for me because of how much work she had to do against Indy’s attacking players and the important interventions she was able to do. She's also a junior in high school... This league is designed to help girls and young women get better and work towards a future in soccer. Watching Unkraut hold her own against college players and Williams, who has played professionally, there is a lot of talent in this country that we, as fans, aren't seeing. We get to see the USWNT and the NWSL, but this league is going to be able to highlight the talented players around the country. Great game Abby!

Right now, it's a good time to be an Indy Eleven fan. Last night's win means that Indy Eleven's win streak is now extending between teams. The women play again this coming Thursday at Flint City AFC and the men play Saturday at Memphis. Can the win streak extend for another weekend or beyond? 

Let's hope so. Winning is fun. 

Maybe the women can force the league to bring back the trophy that was in the building last night. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

As a Purdue fan, there has been a running joke of "Thank God for Mama Anthrop" as there has been an Anthrop son involved in the Purdue sports program since, I think, 2009. With Rachel and Robyn's performance on both ends of the field last night, Indy may fans find themselves saying, "Thank God for Mama McCarthy." With a brace in the first game of the season, the GBGB goes to the younger of the two McCarthy's, since Rachel's quick and accurate shots allowed Indy to absorb the pressure from KHFC, and then ride out the win late when the teams were wearing down. Based on what I saw last night, the GBGB could go to any number of players in upcoming games.

Additional Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)