Indiana Daily Student

IU men’s soccer to play Northwestern as it begins quest for Big Ten tourney three-peat

<p>Sophomore Brett Bebej passes the ball March 23 in Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU will compete against Northwestern in the Big Ten Men&#x27;s Soccer Tournament this weekend.</p>

Sophomore Brett Bebej passes the ball March 23 in Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU will compete against Northwestern in the Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament this weekend.

IU men’s soccer will begin its attempt for a third straight Big Ten Men’s Soccer Tournament championship Saturday when the Hoosiers kick off against Northwestern.

Before the game starts, here are three things to know.

Big Ten dominance

IU has now won three straight regular season Big Ten titles after finishing the season 7-1. The Hoosiers were picked to win the Big Ten unanimously in a preseason coaches poll.

The regular season title win was the 17th in program history and the Hoosiers have 14 tournament championships.

After IU’s game against Maryland was canceled due to Maryland not having enough healthy players — unrelated to COVID-19 — IU secured the Big Ten title and celebrated with a trophy ceremony in the Jerry F. Tardy Center.

By winning the regular season title, IU clinched the title of No. 1 seed for the tournament and will play all tournament games at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

The title continued a dominant stretch in Big Ten play for IU, which has only lost two of its last 44 Big Ten contests, including one earlier this season against Northwestern.

IU’s success runs through sophomore keeper Roman Celentano

Sophomore keeper Roman Celentano has played every minute in goal for the Hoosiers this season and has been a big reason for the team’s success.

Over eight games, Celentano has only allowed two goals. Celentano is third in the nation in save percentage and tied for third in shutouts.

IU is fifth in the country in team goals against average and is also tied for sixth nationally in shutout percentage at .750.

In a Zoom conference April 1, IU head coach Todd Yeagley said he wasn’t expecting Celentano to break out as fast as he did.

“Once we started working with him, I’m not surprised he made the jump that he made,” Yeagley said. “In the recruiting process we thought it might take a while. We clearly don’t always get it right, and that was a pleasant surprise because he’s been wonderful since the day he arrived.”

Celentano earned three straight Big Ten defensive player of the week awards earlier this year. He has made six saves in a game twice this year including the team’s last game, against Michigan.

IU gets a third go at Northwestern

As the No. 1 seed, the Hoosiers drew the No. 8-seeded Wildcats to play in the first round. It will be the teams’ third matchup of the season.

In the first game Feb. 27 in Evanston, Illinois, IU fell 1-0 on an 88th-minute winner from Northwestern sophomore Ugo Achara Jr. IU outshot Northwestern 14-8 in the game but couldn’t break through on any of its six shots on goal.

IU created a chance in the 85th minute, but sophomore forward Maouloune Goumballe struck a ball over the bar from a couple yards out.

Northwestern hasn’t won a game since, losing six of seven and drawing to Wisconsin.

On March 23, IU and Northwestern rematched in Bloomington. The Hoosiers dominated the entire game, beating the Wildcats 3-0 without allowing a shot on goal.

Goumballe starred, scoring one goal and assisting on another.

Saturday’s game will be the first for the Hoosiers in two weeks. IU’s last game was March 27 against Michigan, where the Hoosiers won 1-0 on a double overtime golden goal.

IU will kick off against Northwestern at 2 p.m. Saturday in Bloomington.

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