For the 16th time in program history, IU men’s soccer has clinched the Big Ten regular season title by defeating Michigan State 1-0. This also marks the first time since 2007 that the Hoosiers have won back-to-back regular season titles.
Entering the final day of the conference schedule, IU and Penn State were the lone Big Ten teams vying for the conference crown.
All IU needed to do was force a draw or secure a win against Michigan State on Sunday afternoon to cement its title hopes. A loss, however, would’ve given the Nittany Lions an opportunity to seal the deal with a win of their own against Rutgers.
IU coach Todd Yeagley has been in this position countless times before, both in his playing career and as a coach, but none were with the circumstances of this season. After losing 10 of 11 starters from last season, Yeagley found a way to create continuity and stability with an incredibly young stable of players.
Led by IU sophomore defender Jack Maher, the Hoosiers kept finding ways to win all season, even through bouts of inexperience.
When it mattered most, it was Maher who capped off the Hoosiers’ historic season. A costly foul on IU freshman forward Victor Bezerra gave way to Maher’s crucial penalty kick that ended up being all the Hoosiers needed to down the Spartans.
It was fitting that in the games’ biggest moments Sunday, it was IU’s underclassmen who shined brightest. Whether it was IU freshman forward Maouloune Goumballe making crucial runs on offense, or IU freshman defender Daniel Munie clearing potential goals on defense, IU’s youngsters put together a complete game from start to finish.
The continued maturation of the Hoosiers throughout the season cannot be understated. Many of IU’s players were forced to learn on the fly for much of the conference schedule, and they did so with ease.
Now the attention turns to the Big Ten Tournament, which begins this week. With IU’s victory over Michigan State, it officially locks up the No. 1 seed, and its opponent remains to be seen following the first round of matches.
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