Webb, Hoosiers engaged for soccer opener

At the end of Indiana men’s soccer practice on Tuesday, senior goalkeeper Colin Webb was innocently stretching when he was suddenly baptized by a bucket of ice water.

Shocked, Webb jumped to his feet and jogged several feet away from his teammates, a gigantic grin finally crossing his face.

This, apparently, is the price you pay when you get engaged on the eve of the season opener.

“The ice bath was wonderful,” Webb said afterward. “When you don’t know it’s coming, it’s kind of a shock. I got engaged to my now fiance on Sunday, so that’s some good news and looking to head into a great season this year.”

Webb and fiance Carli Coughanowr will likely wait until next summer to get married, but the No. 15 Hoosiers only have to wait until Friday to kick off the 2016 season when they face New Mexico at 5 p.m. in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at South Bend. It’s the first time IU has started the season on the road since 2012 at St. Louis. The Hoosiers also started the 2011 season in South Bend against Notre Dame.

“It’s a little different than the usual home opener, but I think it’ll be good,” said Webb, a native of San Diego. “We always head up there at some point in the season, so to get a couple games under our belt and then come face some California competition and beat those guys from my home state would be a good way to start off my last season.”

There will be a lot of West Coast flavor to the early-season competition, as the Lobos will be followed by a showdown Sunday with California-Irvine before Indiana returns home for the IU Classic against California and Stanford, plus the Hoosiers are coming off a 2-0 exhibition win over UCLA.

“We play more California teams this year than any of the past years combined, so that’s good to see some friends that stayed back in California and catch up with them after you beat them in the game and give them a little jab about it,” Webb said.

The teams from the left coast should provide Indiana with a different look early in the season before the wars of the conference campaign begin.

“I’d say the Big Ten is one of the most physical conferences in the whole country and every game is a battle, so if you’re not having a good technical day, teams can just muck it up and maybe grind out a result,” Webb said.

Indiana has had just two weeks of practice, with three exhibition games sprinkled in, to get ready for Friday’s opener, and coach Todd Yeagley knows his players are ready, even if there’s more work to be done.

“As a player, they feel ready, which I like,” Yeagley said. “As a coach, you never feel ready, because you feel like there’s more you want to get done. So we prioritize and do what we can in the amount of time, but it’s a work in progress. You play these tough teams to see where you’re at. The players, physically and with what we’ve given them, we’ve maximized what we can at this point, and we just keep adding things throughout the year when it comes to adding layers to our team.”

Adding those layers on the road won’t be easy, but the number of veterans on the Hoosier roster, including nine returning starters, will help ease the process.

“This team has been really good on the road, and the mentality of this group — they’re really comfortable with the facility up in South Bend, it’s a nice field,” Yeagley said. “They want to get going. I don’t think they’re looking much into the fact it’s reversed from normal. Maybe they’re thinking about it more than I am, but I know they’re very focused on this weekend. and they’ve had good success on the road, so there isn’t any intimidation there.”

Certainly no more so than a wedding proposal and ensuing ice bath.

“He’s my first (player) that’s gotten engaged still in college,” Yeagley said. “Good for him, so that’s why we gave him a little celebration.”