INDIANAPOLIS – Live, from Indianapolis, it’s No. 1 Indiana vs. top-25 Butler, and just look at that huge crowd walking into famed Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Wait a minute. They’re walking past Hinkle Fieldhouse, headed to the Sellick Bowl next door. Notice all the kids stopping by the brick doghouse, where Blue and Blue II – the Bulldog mascots – are buried. Remember Blue II from those Butler Final Fours? A showstopper. But this isn’t basketball, this is soccer, literally played in the shadows of one of the best-known college arenas in America. This zip code might be a hoops hotbed, but not Wednesday night.
There would be 6,105 people show up before it was over, a Butler record and reminder they do more at these two schools than take jump shots. The throng – thousands in Butler blue, thousands more in Indiana red – poured in to see two of college soccer’s best teams. But, alas, no goals. It ended a 0-0 draw, maybe 200 yards from where Jimmy Chitwood hit the winning shot in “Hoosiers.”
No winning shot in this one, though. Just lots of defense. Between them, the two goalkeepers needed only four saves in 110 minutes. It was tough soccer, if not the kind to inspire wild applause. They went overtime, of course. These two have done that five years in a row.
From the Butler side, coach Paul Snape: “I felt so bad for the crowd, wanting to see a winner. I’ll take a tie before IU won tonight...for the purist defending, I thought it was unbelievable. I think we cancelled each other out.”
From Indiana, coach Todd Yeagley: “(The crowd) makes for a great night. The weather was perfect. I wish our team would have performed at the level we’ve been performing at, because that would have been more entertaining for the fans. But we move on.”
Before the Hoosiers move on, there is one stat that must be savored. Indiana freshman Trey Muse has now gone more than nine matches since giving up a goal. He has been harder to score on than Alabama’s football team.
How many consecutive scoreless minutes?
“I don’t know,” Muse said.
More than 889.
More than wow. Now No. 7 on the NCAA all-time list. Welcome to college, kid. He’s taken more mid-terms than he’s allowed goals. Two.
“At the end of the day it’s not really about that, it’s about winning overall,” he said. “The shutouts are nice, the streak is good, as long as we can keep it going and keep winning. Tonight just wasn’t our night.”
Indiana had outscored its opponents 34-2 before Wednesday, so this wasn’t vintage Hoosiers, but maybe Butler –eager again to cause trouble for its big-name state cousin -- had something to do with that.
“I felt we still created enough good chances to win it, but that was probably the worst performance of the year,” Yeagley said. “We always say you hope that game doesn’t come where it just wasn’t right from the beginning. It doesn’t have to be a loss. So I’ll use this as an example of maybe this was our loss that we need to recalibrate and understand.”
It might cost the Hoosiers the No. 1 ranking in various rankings – college soccer has more polls than you can shake a yellow card at – despite the 12-0-3 record, or the fact they have yet to trail this season. One thing hasn’t changed. The zeroes keep coming for the Indiana defense. This was the 13th shutout in 15 matches. It's more than a sturdy goalkeeper; it's intent and will, and the talent to back them up.
“That’s been a formula for our success through the years. It’s not just this year, it’s any year,” Yeagley said. “It’s been simple. Defend well.
“I take a lot of pride in the way we defend, I think it’s the strength of this program, and they’re maybe taking it to another level up, which is pretty cool to see.”
As for Butler (8-4-1), the Bulldogs would like everyone to know that 4-22-4 all-time record against the Hoosiers is misleading. They’re 1-1-3 against Indiana in the five consecutive overtime matches. They may not know how to beat the Hoosiers, but they bloody well know how to tie them.
“They’re always going to be up for a good game,” Yeagley said of the Bulldogs.
“It’s easy to get motivated,” Snape said. “I used (with his players) that this year they’re No. 1, but they’re one of the top two or three programs in the last 50 years. It brings the best out of us.”
Not to mention what it does for the gate. Hinkle Fieldhouse stood quiet and empty Wednesday night, waiting for the basketball season. The noise was next door.