Indiana men’s soccer, the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, will face No. 1 seed Penn State in the tournament championship game at noon Sunday in University Park, Pennsylvania.
The Hoosiers are looking to win their fourth-straight Big Ten Tournament title after failing to take the regular-season title for the first time in four years. It’s their fifth-straight appearance in the title game dating back to 2016. Their match with the Nittany Lions will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
“It’s just another soccer game,” senior midfielder Joe Schmidt said at a press conference Friday. “You just have to go out for 90 minutes and play with passion, play with heart and be competitive.”
Indiana advanced to the final this season after sophomore defender Joey Maher scored a golden goal in the first overtime of the team’s semifinal matchup Wednesday against Northwestern. A three-save effort from junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano kept Northwestern off the board and also gave him the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s top plays later that night.
“It’s gone viral, which is really neat for IU, the department, obviously the program to have additional exposure with a great play,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said. “Don’t see that often with college soccer.”
Yeagley also gave credit to Maher, who blocked the second of four shots on goal from Northwestern in the 95th minute and said the magnified stage made it an even cooler moment for the team.
Indiana looks ahead to its matchup with Penn State, which it beat 1-0 Oct. 17 in University Park. The only goal of that match was credited as an own goal after a Penn State senior defender Brandon Hackenberg misplayed a cross from Indiana senior defender Nyk Sessock past his goalkeeper.
The Hoosiers outshot the Nittany Lions 14-11 in the first matchup, and Celentano made five saves to keep them off the board.
“I thought we were really good defensively in that game,” Schmidt said. “The things that we gave them were really only off our mistakes, so just limiting those.”
Schmidt said he thinks Indiana can create opportunities on the counter attack against Penn State, and Yeagley said he plans on having an aggressive attacking game plan despite being on the road.
Schimdt also reflected on going to the tournament final every year he’s been at IU and said every team he’s been on has wanted to win it as much as the last one. Yeagley said he’s been reiterating to the team how hard it is to advance to the conference final and how Penn State is a talented team.
“They don’t give you much, they have an experienced keeper, and there’s a lot of belief in their team,” Yeagley said. “It’s going to be one heck of a match.”