It took 34 shots and numerous chances, but No. 2 IU finally nabbed the lone goal against Penn State in sudden-death overtime in a Big Ten Quarterfinal match Monday afternoon at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
After the match was postponed to Monday due to inclement weather and sloppy field conditions Sunday, the matchup produced spectacular play from Penn State freshman goalkeeper Josh Levine, who had a career high 13 saves on the day.
“Their goalkeeper just played lights out,” freshman attacker Griffin Dorsey said. “We were getting shots off, and their defense wasn’t stopping us. Their goalkeeper, props to him, but we finally got one. Right Cory?”
However, it was junior attacker Cory Thomas who sent the Nittany Lions packing after scoring the overtime goal during the first extra period. The goal came in a goalmouth scramble for the ball after Thomas’ initial shot was blocked by a Penn State defender. Thomas then regrouped, and volleyed the ball into the left side of the net, where Levine had no chance of stopping it.
“I got to the end line, and I saw Cory’s check back, just like I did previously in the game and I gave it to his feet,” Dorsey said. “I knew he would take care of it. The goalie had a lucky save on his first shot, but I knew on the last one, Cory wasn’t going to let it go.”
Penn State started the match well, recording the only shot in the first 10 minutes of the game, but then IU recorded 13 unanswered shots. As the game progressed, the Nittany Lions saw more and more bodies being put in front of IU’s attack, and stacked the penalty box numerous times in an effort not to concede.
This frustrated IU, as the Hoosiers earned 12 corner kicks throughout the game and several dangerous free kicks as well.
IU’s other significant chance came in the 72nd minute, after Penn State was called for a hand-ball inside the penalty box, giving IU a penalty kick.
Junior midfielder Trevor Swartz had a chance to give IU the lead, but his kick sailed over the crossbar and IU was forced to regroup.
“We were just trying to stay positive,” Thomas said. “When Trevor missed that PK, you know it’s one in a million for him, and I walked up to him afterwards and told him we still had a game to play. I didn’t want him to get down and I knew we wanted to stay positive, and we did.”
Missed opportunities plagued IU all game long, and it was partially due to Levine’s great play between the sticks. Even with Levine’s career day, there were still many goals left on Jerry Yeagley Field, and IU Coach Todd Yeagley said his team still needs to improve in the final third of the pitch.
“Scoring goals this time of year is tough, especially when Penn State was able to get numbers back,” Yeagley said. “We’ll continue to work on our final piece and product in the critical areas. If we keep being sharp there and keep creating chances then I like us being able to score a key goal when we need it.”
Dorsey said he along with the rest of the team thought winning a tightly-contested game will be a positive going forward as they start to play in bigger games this season.
“The challenge was good for us,” Dorsey said. “We’ve faced some challenging games this season, but not enough. If we challenge ourselves now it will help in the long run. It will keep us moving, positive, and keeping us upbeat.”
Yeagley said he wants the team’s high confidence and morale to translate into their semifinal match against six-seed Ohio State at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana.
“Winning tight games is a good feeling," Yeagley said. "Playing an overtime game, and winning a game where there’s a title on the line, it’s a great confidence booster for us. If and when we have to face a situation like that again, the confidence will be there for the guys.”
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