The loudest noise of Wednesday afternoon’s game between Indiana men’s soccer and Northwestern at Bill Armstrong Stadium came after the game was already supposed to be over. A golden goal from sophomore defender Joey Maher carried Indiana to victory in the 98th minute of play.
With the 1-0 win, Indiana advances to face Penn State in the Big Ten Championship.
“Northwestern made it really difficult today,” head coach Todd Yeagley said in the post-game press conference. “We didn’t lose confidence.”
Maher was positioned in the center of the goal when he took a pass from junior forward Ryan Wittenbrink and took a shot on net. Northwestern’s graduate student goalkeeper Miha Miskovic fell the opposite way as Maher’s shot found the back of the goal.
Maher is the fourth Indiana player to put up a golden goal this season.
“It was an absolute dime,” Maher said of Wittenbrink’s pass. “It was a great team goal.”
Two and a half minutes before Maher’s goal, junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano made four consecutive diving saves in less than 30 seconds. Celentano has a career-high 10 shutouts in 2021 and 27 career shutouts.
“To be able to do that in overtime was fantastic,” Yeagley said. “It just lifts everyone up and goes a long way.”
Celentano’s performance helped bring the team more momentum, Maher said, and knowing his ability to defend in the goal gave Maher and the other defenders opportunities to take chances upfield.
“It was unbelievable. It’s such a confidence boost for the entire team,” he said. “It helps the center backs, it helps the entire back line with positioning.”
The Hoosiers outshot the Wildcats 20-11 and 8-5 in shots on goal after both teams only put up five shots in the first half. The Wildcats had more opportunities in the first half but were unable to convert, and the Hoosiers came into the second half more put together offensively and defensively.
Indiana came into the first half a bit unprepared for Northwestern’s style of play, Yeagley said, and at halftime, he had to focus on making sure the center backs could initiate offensive attacks. Yeagley also said he wanted to make sure the secondary movement was fast enough to create opportunities for goals.
“We felt like we just needed to get more balls in danger spots, knowing that it’s going to be tight for chances,” he said.
Northwestern’s Miskovic prevented Indiana from converting chances into goals throughout the entire match, putting up seven saves. Yeagley said Miskovic negated some plays Indiana tried to carry through but not enough to discourage the Indiana offense.
“There’s a real fine line of getting over the edge in frustration with chances versus like ‘it’s coming,’” Yeagley said. “I thought we were right on that good edge of staying composed.”
With the win, Indiana advances to the Big Ten Tournament Championship to take on Penn State at noon Sunday at Jeffery Field in University Park, Pennsylvania.