Saturday, July 8, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Minnesota Aurora - 02.12 (Playoffs)


- Opponent: Minnesota Aurora
- Location: Atwood Stadium
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Reason, Chatterton, Creel, Bahr, Sexton, Kraszula, Rogers (C), Dewey, S., Soderstrom, K., Chester, Williams

- Substitution: Soderstrom, S. 68' (Dewey, S.); Kugler 68' (Chatterton); Ojongmboh 72' (Williams); Johnson 80' (Chester); Whitsett 80' (Soderstrom, K.)

- Unused: Edwards, Wilson

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Dewey, S. 57’ (assist Bahr)

- Bookings:
IND - Chatterton 47’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Meghan Brasseur
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

We can all say that this wasn't a revenge game after last season's only loss of the year came at the hands of Minnesota Aurora in the first game of the playoffs, but 6 of today's starters were starters for Indy in that game. They remember. Players hold grudges if they think it can give them an edge. They didn't want this season to end the same way to the same club. 

Both of these teams can score goals. Minnesota scored 60 goals in 12 games, scoring 5 goals or more 7 different times. Indy were not as prolific as their opponent throughout the season, but Indy fans know that the talent is there. It wasn't a matter of not getting shots, it was just a function of not being as clinical around goal at times. Otherwise, Indy's goal scoring could have been higher. Additionally, both teams had stingy defenses; Minnesota conceded just 4 goals and Indy conceded 3 goals during the regular season. Much like last year, these are two very talented teams, both deserving of their position in the playoffs. Minnesota started the playoffs on Thursday with a 1-nil penalty kick win over Chicago City SC, while Indy defeated Flint City 3-nil.

Indy began the game in a 4-5-1 arrangement with Williams the lone forward up top. In the early part of the game, Williams picked up 3 early shots on goal, but couldn't get it past Poorbaugh who put herself in good positions for each of the shots. Then the game settled into both teams getting some possession and some opportunities. Minnesota held more of the possession, but Indy had 4 shots on target to Minnesota's 2. 

With every Minnesota attempt going forward, I realized that I watch playoff soccer differently. Writing for this site, I often have one eye on the game and one eye on the screen as I type. This game was stressful to watch with Minnesota's physical high press. The game had the feeling, that despite both team's firepower up top, this game could come down to a single defensive mistake since neither team leaks many goals. As a result, I was constantly on edge. As the halftime whistle blew with the score tied nil-nil, I felt as ready for the break as the players.

As the rain started to fall in the second half, my fear that the game would come down to a defensive mistake was exacerbated. Rain causes the ball to do weird things on turf, and a mistake seemed more likely. Fortunately for Indy, a foul by Minnesota in Indy's offensive third allowed for set piece opportunity. A perfect Bahr service into the box forced Poorbaugh to stay on her line, and Dewey found her foot to it to give Indy a 1-nil lead in the 57th minute.

The game was fairly wide open leading up to the goal, but the game took another notch up as Minnesota was now forced to chase the game. Minnesota's frustration of being down a goal, a position they likely haven't been in much (if ever) this season, began to show itself as they started being a little more physical and arguing every call and Indy's attempts to take the air out of the game by slowing down every restart. 

Despite Minnesota's late effort, they couldn't break through Indy's defense and the game finished with a 1-nil victory for Indy Eleven, bringing a conference championship trophy home with them. A "one game at a time" mentality, stout defending, and a timely goal puts Indy two wins away from a league title. At this point, it's unknown where the semifinal/final games will be played. [edit: apparently I missed the announcement that Indy will be hosting the games at Grand Park! This is a big deal and Indy fans need to pack the stadium.] Indy fans can hope that we host so we can cheer on the team in person.

Now I'm off to hopefully watch, and write about, the men's team beat Tulsa...

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Bahr. Indy's former player/coach was a beast today. She made timely defensive recoveries, and seemingly every time that Minnesota made an attempt towards goal, she was in the way. As if her defensive effort wasn't enough, she was also the one who served in the ball that became the game winner. In a full team effort, Bahr stood out as the one who helped gut out the win.

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