The IUPUI men’s soccer team dropped to 0-8 on the season after a 1-0 loss to Valparaiso Tuesday night. It was the fourth straight game that the Jaguars failed to net a goal.
Moving forward, one of IUPUI’s main concerns will have to be finding a rhythm on offense. Through eight games, the Jaguars have only scored three goals.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do in soccer,” said head coach Brian Barnett.
An offensive attack requires many building blocks, making it easy to crumble before a shot can even be taken.
Against Valparaiso (4-4-1), chances were scant. The Jaguars got off five shots on the night, including only one in the second half, while the Crusaders finished with 23. The offensive production in the second half has been a problem all season. IUPUI yet to score a goal in the latter 45 minutes.
“I think it comes down to the opportunities we create in the second half,” said senior midfielder Harold Agyeman-Prempeh, who suggested that one contributing factor could be the lack of continuity in the second half as subbing becomes more frequent.
IUPUI’s best opportunity came in the 89th minute, when junior defender Nick Anderson delivered a long ball into the box. Senior forward Uriel Macias touched the ball off his chest to freshman midfielder Gianni Catennacci, who wasn’t able to get a shot off.
“Defenders were coming after me,” said Catennacci. “Someone clipped me from behind. Maybe if I would’ve gone down, who knows.”
On a night when IUPUI got two shots on goal compared to Valparaiso’s 11, that could have been the equalizer.
Still, Catennacci believes the offense is improving, even if isn’t resulting in goals yet.
“We were creating more chances, getting the ball out wide, getting service in,” said Catennacci. “…We have more numbers up top now. As Horizon League play continues, you’re going to see us have more chances and more goals hopefully.”
Aside from an offense that’s struggling to score right now, the Jaguars surrendered quite a few looks at goal to Valparaiso, putting redshirt freshman goalkeeper Tyler Shanahan under a lot of pressure in his first home start. His lone goal allowed came in the 51st minute from inside the box. Shanahan made a diving attempt to his left but the ball got through under his arms.
Getting vertical worked out for Shanahan more often than it didn’t. His best stop was in the 42nd minute when Valparaiso’s Adan Garcia struck the ball from about 25 yards out. Shanahan shot off the ground to his right and got a hand on the ball to send it off course.
Shanahan made a similar save in the 59th minute, this time diving to his right to stop a ball from about 20 yards out.
“I just wanted to perform well in front of all my friends and family for the first time,” said Shanahan.
But the Jaguars’ defense is playing a dangerous game by counting on that many athletic saves.
“I hope I don’t have to do it in the future.”
Agyeman-Prempeh shared similar feelings on the sustainability of that kind of play.
“When you keep hitting down on the wall with something heavy, eventually there’s going to be a crack,” he said.
Shanahan was playing in his fourth consecutive game, following a four-game stint from fellow redshirt freshman goalkeeper Michael Buck.
“We’ve been a little bit unsettled at the goalkeeper position throughout the course of the season,” said Barnett, who added that he wants to settle on a goalkeeper sometime in the next week.
If the Jaguars can’t put the ball in the back of the net, though, ironing out the goalkeeper situation won’t be the most serious concern to address.
“At the end of the day,” said Barnett, “you’ve got to find some guys who are in your attacking core of players that want to shoulder the responsibility of being the guy who has the ball last. … I think we have players on our team that are capable of reaching that level. It’s just a matter of us continuing to work with them on a daily basis as coaches to bring that person out of them.”