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Men's soccer earns hard-fought win against Penn State



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Senior defender Grant Lillard heads a ball off of a corner kick against Penn State on Monday afternoon at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Lillard had five shots in IU's 1-0 overtime win against Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

For the seventh time in the last nine matches between IU and Penn State, the game was decided with just one goal scored.

IU dominated most of the match during the 97-plus minutes played at Bill Armstrong Stadium on Monday afternoon. 

Penn State was content to sit in and defend as the Hoosiers attacked. The Nittany Lions were a disciplined and well-composed defensive team.

However, Penn State did give up a lot of shots. IU had 34 of them to be exact. The last one in overtime was the only goal IU needed to advance past the Nittany Lions and into the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

“Maybe I was just super optimistic, but I thought it was coming,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “I felt we were going to continue to get chances. That ball inside the six, eventually there will be a play made. Some of our shots we could have done better with our selection, one more pass, a bit more composure, but a lot of them were the right moment on the finish.”

The aura around Monday's game was a bit awkward.

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, then it was postponed to Monday because of inclement weather conditions that made the field unplayable. 

Twenty-three hours after the original start time, Penn State and IU took to the beat-up, rain-soaked field. 

Yeagley thought his IU team played well, but the real story of the day was Penn State redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Josh Levine. Levine's career-high 13 saves kept the Hoosiers off the board for nearly 97 minutes. Levine was everywhere and earned the praise of the Hoosiers after the match.

“Their goalkeeper just played lights out,” IU freshman attacker Griffin Dorsey said. “We were getting shots, their defense wasn’t stopping us, just their goalkeeper – props to him… But we finally got one.”

The goal came from IU junior midfielder Cory Thomas, who fired a shot Levine wasn’t able to stop. 

Yeagley said Monday was in a way like last season's Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal against Northwestern. IU won that match 1-0 as well. 

Still, Yeagley said scoring goals this time of year is tough and with Penn State putting numbers behind the ball, it took a while to break them down.

Thomas said Monday's game was a bit frustrating. Yet, the Hoosiers kept pushing.

“We knew we were going to keep playing, keep doing what we’re doing, it seemed to be working,” Thomas said. “Eventually we thought it was going to come.”

Come Friday and the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be waiting for IU, The Buckeyes are fresh off an upset of the Michigan State Spartans. Ohio State defends well and is an organized team, similar to Penn State. 

Yeagley said the Hoosiers will continue to work at finishing in the final third. Things at this time of year don’t come easy. IU may have known that already, but they experienced it Monday.

“I like us being able to score a key goal when we need it,” Yeagley said.

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