When Cal State Bakersfield scored in the 24th minute, the thought running though Hoosier fans’ minds was, “Here we go again.”
The end result, however, was different from the past three matches.
After losing three straight in overtime periods, Indiana was able to overcome the 1-0 deficit and get back on track with a 4-1 victory over the Roadrunners of Bakersfield.
“The time was coming, and we were rewarded for our play,” Todd Yeagley said after the match. “There were lots of good things, and as we perform well we know we can get wins. Especially in coming from behind, I think it was a good character moment for us.”
An even bigger moment on the night was the play from Tanner Thompson.
Even though his younger brother, Tommy, scored the equalizer after 29 minutes of play, when Tanner came off the bench tonight, the older Thompson brother brought a relentlessness that helped push the game into the win column.
“I thought Tanner was the man of the match, his play overall was good. His minutes he gave us were fantastic,” Yeagley praised.
For the second goal of the night, Thompson was dispossessed deep in the Bakersfield half. He didn’t let up, which led to him regaining possession and picking out Jacob Bushue on his cross to put the Hoosiers up for good.
“I saw the defender was being lackadaisical, so I kept after it and was able to find Bushue, who was making a hard run into the box,” Thompson said. “We go into every game the same, but the added pressure of coming off three losses added to our aggressiveness.”
He was integral in adding the insurance goal for the Hoosiers as well. With just over 15 minutes remaining, Thompson found himself in the center of the field and three defenders closing in on him. Without hesitation, he blasted his way through them while showing deftness on the ball, and laid off to Femi Hollinger-Janzen for the score.
Even Bushue added, “I don’t think we win this game without him.”
But it wasn’t just offense that had it going on the night. The defense brought its game as well.
With Dylan Lax inserted into the starting back line, the defense not only had more experience, but also a team leader and communicator.
“Our backs did a good job in organizing quickly, and Dylan’s communication was excellent. It’s part of the reason we inserted him,” Yeagley mentioned.
It definitely showed. While the Roadrunners were able to nab a goal off of a corner kick, the Hoosier defense never once allowed another good scoring opportunity to the visitors, evident by only giving up a total of three shots that were actually on frame.
In the second half, Kerel Bradford went down with an injury that took him off the field and straight into the locker room.
“Kerel just felt something, but it’s not swollen. I’m not sure about Sunday, but long term he will be fine. He had that smile after, so I think we will be ok with him,” Yeagley commented.
Billy McConnell, the back that Lax had started for, came on to replace him, and though he was challenged early, his positioning was on point and held up the back line well for his team.
“There aren’t too many teams in the country that can compete with us when we have this level of talent coming off the bench,” Bushue said after the game.
The next team that will try will be UC Irvine on Sunday, when the Hoosiers will be looking to turn this single victory into a more important winning streak.