For the 14th time in program history, No. 8 IU men’s soccer won the Big Ten Championship with a 4-3 penalty kick advantage over Michigan. Sunday’s victory marked the 10th time in history that IU won the regular season and tournament titles.
The Hoosiers defeated the Wolverines 3-0 in last year’s tournament championship, but the offense was much quieter in Sunday’s rematch.
Defense ruled during the first half with just five total shots.
Michigan’s early opportunities to score were thwarted by IU’s defense. Sophomore defender Joe Schmidt prevented graduate forward Nebojsa Popovic from an easy goal in the first 10 minutes with pressure on the lower left side of the six-yard box.
Junior defender A.J. Palazzolo shut down opportunities for Popovic while taking a beating on all ends of the field. With his headband on and stitches in place, the junior was scrappy.
IU freshman goalkeeper Roman Celentano wasn't forced to make a save during the first half as the backline of sophomore defender Jack Maher and freshman defender Daniel Munie cleared out anything in their path.
Defense from the Wolverines was just as lively despite some quick spurts from the Hoosiers.
Freshman goalkeeper Owen Finnerty managed to get a couple of fingers on freshman forward Victor Bezerra’s leaping kick from the right side of the 18-yard box. Ten minutes later, after maneuvering through defenders, freshman forward Joshua Penn kicked a hard roller to the lower corner of the post, and Finnerty again dove to stop the ball.
Michigan broke IU’s defensive formations, forcing Celentano to make two saves on goal.
Within two minutes, junior midfielder Marc Ybarra and Popovic took open shots that threatened to put Michigan ahead. Celentano pulled in Ybarra’s spear in the 66th minute and dove to pull in Popovic’s laser on the ground.
Popovic, the conference’s offensive player of the year, took four shots on the half.
Although the Wolverines dominated the second half of regulation, leading 8-3 in shots, they could not finish off the Hoosiers.
Throughout the first overtime, IU couldn't get a shot off. Both teams went back and forth.
In the 95th minute, the Wolverine forward had an open look on goal. Going to his left, Celentano dove down and ripped the ball away from the lower right corner of the net.
With one second left in the second overtime, Palazzolo had a throw-in and got the ball to freshman midfielder Aidan Morris, but the shot was deflected off a Wolverines’ groin.
In the penalty kick round, Celentano stopped the first shot while Schmidt scored IU’s first.
Broche got the ball by Celentano to even it up, but it was Palazzolo who stepped up to give IU the 2-1 advantage.
Celentano, once again, stopped Michigan, diving to his left and stopping sophomore midfielder Kevin Buca from tying the match. With a chance to win it, Maher stepped forward.
Maher tried to tapped it in softly on the lower right corner, but Finnerty was ready for it. The freshman slid and easily blocked the go-ahead shot.
Ybarra tied it up 3-3 as he drilled the ball through the upper part of the net. IU had one more penalty kick left, and it all came down to its leading goal scorer, Penn.
With the title on the line, the freshman locked in, reached back and fired the ball into the right corner of the goal.
His teammates, standing shoulder to shoulder with arms around one another, pumped their fists in the air and tackled Penn and Celentano.
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