FORT WAYNE – Perception is everything in a game like this.
For those pulling for the underdog Marquette Golden Eagles, securing a 3-3 draw with mighty Indiana University seemed like a monumental feat Thursday.
For the Hoosiers, the defending national champions of the NCAA, it was greeted with a response like meh.
Thats because the Hoosiers played two different games, using their starters in just the first half and their reserves in the second, within an exhibition match.
With the top guns on the field at the Hefner Fields, Indiana got goals from A.J. Corrado, Jacob Bushue and Tommy Thompson, taking a 3-1 lead.
Its just that it later fell apart, the Golden Eagles getting second-half goals from Kelmend Islami, who tied it on a penalty kick with less than four minutes remaining at the Shindigz National Soccer Festival.
We did some very good things tonight, and it was kind of an unfair result, given the goal-scoring opportunities, IU coach Todd Yeagley said.
One of the goals tonight was to get a lot of different people minutes and two different teams played (for us). So theres not going to be great rhythm. It took 15 or 20 minutes for our second group to get going against a team thats very similar to what it was last year.
There was a crowd of more than 1,000 watching the game.
Were still evaluating and want to continue to manage the bodies for health, Yeagley said. Were just a week away from our opener and two weeks away from another huge game. This one, we wanted to get the players feet wet and get them used to the atmosphere with this crowd. The first game is nerve-wracking, no matter how talented you are, and its good to get that first one out of the way.
On Saturday night at Hefner, the Hoosiers will play North Carolina, which won the 2011 national championship and defeated Michigan State 2-1 here Thursday.
I guess you could call it good preparation, but when youre playing against a good team like North Carolina, you want to win, Bushue said. Theres not too many times, whether its a game, a preseason game or even a scrimmage against our own team, that you dont want to win. Thats just something thats instilled by our coaching staff.
So were not going there to not get a win. North Carolina is a very good opponent, probably the best team we played last year and we beat them in the Elite Eight. They are going to be hungry for us.
The Hoosiers may go with their top players longer Saturday, and they are feeling confident.
Marquette is a very good team. Ending with a 3-3 result, I guess you could say it was fair, but with our starters in the first half it was 3-1. We were pleased with that and I thought we played very well, Bushue said. Marquette is known for being a good defensive team and getting three goals in the first half was a pretty good thing for us.
We have some good attacking players and thats how were going to play and hopefully we can exploit teams this year.