Indiana Daily Student

IU men’s soccer scores out of lightning delay to advance to College Cup

The rain pours down on Sophomore Defender Brett Bebej on April 10 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU defeated Seton Hall University 2-0 Monday to advance to the College Cup.
The rain pours down on Sophomore Defender Brett Bebej on April 10 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU defeated Seton Hall University 2-0 Monday to advance to the College Cup.

How does IU men’s soccer head coach Todd Yeagley use an extra halftime to address his team?

He keeps them loose and challenges them to create a quick goal before the real halftime.

“As it got closer, we just kept reminding them, ‘Can we take advantage of these three minutes left in the half?’” Yeagley said in a postgame Zoom conference. 

After an hour-long lightning delay against No. 6 Seton Hall University, sophomore forward Ryan Wittenbrink struck the back of the net in the 44th minute to give IU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in a 2-0 victory Monday.

The Hoosiers took advantage in wet, rainy conditions and left with perhaps the 48 most efficient minutes of the season against its best opponent yet.

After a first half that largely lacked any shots from either side, the lightning delay caused both teams to head to the busses. 

Sitting on a bus mid-game, with a trip to the College Cup on the line, was not something that Yeagley and IU have ever dealt with before.

Then again, neither is anything else in this season.

“We went to the strength of them solving what we’ve been dealing with,” Yeagley said. “You can easily fall into comfort or also forgetting what we’re playing for. It’s just a constant reminder that this is a special game.”

Upon return, IU was collected and in control. 

Despite being outshot 14-3, Seton Hall’s only goal-scoring opportunity came on a 77th minute shot that reverbed off the left post and was cleared out of play.

Sophomore goalkeeper Roman Celentano made six saves, but a majority came on long shots that didn’t require extraneous effort. Seton Hall senior goalkeeper Andreas Nota made only one save.

In a pregame Zoom conference on Sunday, Yeagley said he still hadn’t seen IU put together a complete game with top performances from all his players.

“I told them you still haven’t had all of you have an A-game all at the same time,” Yeagley said then. “That’s a good thing because you’re going to have to win a couple games where maybe a key player’s off a little bit.”

Monday provided the best look at what Yeagley believes IU can be, even without a shot from sophomore striker Victor Bezerra.

“Victor in the first half, his movement and spacing was excellent,” Yeagley said. “I felt like Vic was back.”

The Hoosiers were able to distribute the offense, with Wittenbrink’s goal and another goal from senior forward Thomas Warr that was set up perfectly by sophomore forward Maouloune Goumballe.

Wittenbrink and Warr became the fourth and fifth players to score a goal through three NCAA Tournament games. No IU player has scored two yet.

The back line was easily able to fend off Seton Hall’s attacks, and freshman defender Joey Maher continued to prove his importance after serving a one-game suspension against St. Francis College.

The victory pushed IU to its 21st College Cup and into program history ahead of its match against the No. 2 University of Pittsburgh at 8:30 p.m. on Friday in Cary, North Carolina.

Yeagley said the team is going to be honored alongside IU’s other College Cup teams and that the 21st College Cup is theirs alone. But he added that that isn’t the goal.

“Don’t forget, the ultimate mark on the program is to change the jersey,” Yeagley said.

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