The Indy Eleven secured a much needed victory at home against Miami FC on Sept. 17. They took home the win by a margin of 2-1. The match was high energy and close throughout it’s entirety. The fans were on the edge of their seats the entire game, erupting with cheers when the Eleven made solid plays, and throwing their hands up in agony when something went wrong.
The game started with a flurry of offensive approaches. Within the first two minutes of play, both Indy and Miami had shots on goal. The goalkeepers showed their prowess early, making tremendous saves to keep the game scoreless. In the 25th minute, the Indy Eleven got on the board. After an errant throw-in by Miami’s goalkeeper, the boys in blue took advantage. Forward Justin Braun corralled the ball, and passed off to midfielder Dylan Mares. Mares proceeded to hammer it home to the left side of the goal, just beyond the outstretched hand of Miami’s goalie. The stadium erupted, shaking with the stomping and screaming of the loyal Indy fans.
Following the goal, Miami stepped up their effort noticeably. There was now a distinct sense of urgency. The remainder of the first half consisted of frantic offensive possessions, most of which resulting in shots bombed 20 feet above the goal. When the horn sounded to end the half, the Indy Eleven led Miami FC by a narrow 1-0 score.
Coming out of the half, both teams kept up their tempo from the first half. This excess energy and excitement landed Dylan Mares a yellow card after getting a little too anxious during a play on the ball, fouling the opponent. This yellow was followed shortly by another, this time awarded to Miami’s Wilson Palacios.
Miami made their strongest offensive push yet immediately following the yellow, with the shot taking a heartstopping bounce off of the left post. In the 56th minute, Indy’s midfielder Don Smart put the ball past the keeper, assisted by Eamon Zayed, to increase the lead to 2-0.
The two teams traded impressive but fruitless offensive possessions for the next 10 minutes. Both defenses were tightening their grip, stifling every approach they could. At last Miami had a shot reach its desired destination in the 66th minute. Miami forward Vincenzo Rennella scored with the defense blanketed around him, assisted by Rhett Bernstein.
With the goal, Miami was back in the game. Miami vamped their effort up to the max following the goal. They were energized and had the momentum. Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch earned his pay towards the end of the game, making big saves, including a diving fingertip save off a rocket from Rennella. Rennella made one final attempt in the 93rd minute, but his shot was stopped short by Indy defender, Corey Miller.
“This is momentum,” said Mares, who scored Indy’s first goal of the game, “We’ve had a bad stretch of games in the past couple weeks, we’ve been on the road a lot. We came back home and kind of got settled in. We’re trying to regain that momentum we’ve been looking for. I think this is going to help, it’s something we can build on.”
Not only did the boys in blue walk away victorious, but the fans did too. The sense of community and pride in the stadium was infectious. One would be hard pressed to see a frown. Those in attendance were absolutely rambunctious, avidly cheering on their hometown team.
When asked about how he, an Indiana native himself, felt about playing in front of the home crowd, Mares replied, “It means a lot. You hear your name coming out of the locker room and after the games. There’s a lot of faces you recognize and that means a whole lot. It means that they’re dedicated to come out here and support you. It shows how close knit this entire community is.”
And close knit it is. Mother of Indy Eleven defender Corey Miller, Corinne, in regards to the community feel of Carroll Stadium and the fans, she said, “I think it’s amazing. It’s awesome. Our son has been on other teams, and this has been the best one by far.”
With this much needed win, Indy adds some vital points to their spring season push for the playoffs. Their next opponent is the New York Cosmos on Sept. 24. This game will prove pivotal in the playoffs points race, as New York is currently No. 1 in the standings. Indy now sits at No. 4, seven points behind New York.