A slow, methodical start turned into another standout defensive performance for No. 9 IU men’s soccer as it shut out Ohio State 2-0 on Sunday afternoon in a Big Ten quarterfinal match.
With the Buckeyes coming off a victory over Rutgers on Saturday, their reward was a 24-hour turnaround against the Hoosiers. The lack of rest was apparent from the onset with Ohio State entering with tired legs and a sluggish pace.
IU, who was coming off a seven-day layoff, didn’t look strong out of the gates either. Ill-advised passes and getting caught out of position did the Hoosiers no favors in the opening 30 minutes of that match.
“It took us a little bit to kind of get in that game,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, partly because the rhythm of the game was hard to find and a couple guys weren’t really sharp on the day.”
The action started to get overly physical midway through the first half, as Ohio State was shown two yellow cards in the span of five minutes. IU freshman forward Victor Bezerra also received a yellow card of his own after a hard tackle on a 50/50 ball near midfield in the 22nd minute.
“Every game’s going to be physical and high-tempo at this point,” IU freshman forward Josh Penn said. “It comes down to the little things, and you’re going to be fighting for the ball. That’s kind of what was expected going in.”
With the fouls and sloppiness mounting, it looked as if the Hoosiers might go into halftime empty-handed. However, in the 42nd-minute, Penn found a hole in the Ohio State back line and was able to tap in a goal on the receiving end of an assist from IU junior forward Thomas Warr.
The late goal gave IU a 1-0 lead, but Ohio State held the shooting advantage with four shots to IU’s three heading into halftime.
Coming out of the half, the physicality didn’t taper off much as tempers only continued to escalate.
Midway through the 51st minute Ohio State forward Devyn Etling inadvertently elbowed Morris in the head, which elicited a red card upon further review. The ejection forced the Buckeyes’ leading scorer out for the remainder of the match and gave the Hoosiers a man advantage the rest of the way.
“Those are fuel moments in a game,” Yeagley said. “Whether it was a challenge or even verbal piece, there was a lot of talking to the referee today, and that can fuel both teams.”
The over-aggressive approach from Ohio State was bound to boil over at some point, and it ended up costing them in a big way. In total, Ohio State was shown three yellow cards, one red card and called for 18 fouls.
IU was more than willing to take full advantage of a depleted Ohio State team and continued to apply offensive pressure midway through the second half.
A handful of squandered offensive opportunities for the Hoosiers allowed the Buckeyes to hang around for a majority of the match, but its back line was too much for the Buckeyes to ultimately handle.
IU junior midfielder A.J. Palazzolo iced the match in the 85th minute as he and IU junior midfielder Spencer Glass connected on a goal from 12 feet out that all but put the game out of reach.
“It’s nice to see A.J. get a goal because he’s been in a lot of good spots this year,” Yeagley said. “And the goal total doesn’t give fairness to what he’s done for us.”
With the win, IU earns a spot in the Big Ten semifinal round and will travel to College Park, Maryland, for a meeting with Maryland.
“It’ll be fun to go back, but no matter who we play I think we’re ready for both teams," Glass said. "And we’re just glad to be in the semifinal and get to the final."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the final score of the game. The final score was actually 2-0. The IDS regrets this error.
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