Indiana Daily Student

Wittenbrink, Indiana men’s soccer bounce back in second half, dominate Northwestern 4-1

<p>Senior forward Ryan Wittenbrink moves the ball toward the goal Sept. 27, 2022, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana defeated Northwestern University 4-1 Tuesday night.</p>

Senior forward Ryan Wittenbrink moves the ball toward the goal Sept. 27, 2022, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana defeated Northwestern University 4-1 Tuesday night.

All it took was one Northwestern goal to awaken a sleeping dragon.

Within four minutes of conceding the first goal of the match, Indiana men’s soccer directed an offensive barrage at the Wildcats on Tuesday night to the tune of three goals, and then the team tacked on another in the 76th minute for good measure.

No one represented the team’s response to adversity more than redshirt senior forward Ryan Wittenbrink. Wittenbrink, the team’s leading goal scorer, has acclimated well to his newfound starting role. He added his fourth goal of the season on Tuesday night in the Hoosiers’ 4-1 thrashing of Northwestern.

[Related: Second-half flurry lifts Indiana men’s soccer past Northwestern 4-1 for first Big Ten win]

After the first half, in which both sides went into the locker rooms scoreless, the result of the match was unpredictable. Despite dominating in time of possession and creating a handful of quality opportunities early on, the Hoosiers and Wittenbrink, in particular, could not quite break through.

“Ironically, he’s one of our most composed finishers,” head coach Todd Yeagley said of Wittenbrink. “I think on another night, he has two in that first half and the game is well on its way to being over. Those are uncharacteristic, I wouldn’t say misses, but two of them I thought he normally would bury.”

Given the forward’s previous performances, both this season and in his storied career at Indiana, a few of Wittenbrink’s first half chances were abnormal misses. The first, a right-footed strike in the eighth minute, might have been fired with a bit too much finesse when adequate power would have sufficed.

In the 24th minute, after a shot from sophomore Sam Sarver was redirected by the Wildcats’ goalkeeper, Wittenbrink was caught off balance and could not convert off the deflection. After the match, Wittenbrink echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“Obviously not the way I wanted to start the game,” Wittenbrink said. “We’ve been right on the doorstep and needed to start finishing goals.”

After the dust settled from the Hoosiers’ offensive onslaught early in the second half, the team began to slow down and hold possession, working from the back. Still, with around 15 minutes left in the match, Wittenbrink all but sealed the victory by scoring Indiana’s fourth and final goal.

Sarver played a perfect through ball into the left side of the Wildcats’ box to Wittenbrink, who immediately cut to his right foot. After taking a couple dribbles and fending off a Northwestern defender, Wittenbrink rocketed a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Wildcat graduate student goalkeeper Christian Garner crumbled in disappointment before the Hoosiers’ celebration even commenced. Yeagley said that Wittenbrink’s maturity was evident through his goal.

“He stayed really composed and didn’t get rattled,” Yeagley said. “That’s where a fifth year comes in. If that’s a younger (Wittenbrink) who maybe hasn’t had big goals for us the last couple years, he might’ve been rattled, but he stayed really focused.”

Even after conceding the first goal, Wittenbrink said his team never wavered. By picking up their first conference win of the season, the Hoosiers appeared to have fully bounced back after a rough couple of matches.

“Obviously you don’t want to have that happen,” Wittenbrink said in regard to Northwestern’s goal. “But it definitely gave us a kick. It’s a great sign we can bounce back from adversity, and I thought it was a really good response.”

While the opponent may have been statistically inferior, gaining momentum and making a statement at home were all that Wittenbrink and the Hoosiers could have asked for coming into Tuesday’s match. Next, they will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on Michigan at 4 p.m. Sunday. The match will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.

Follow reporters Kamil Gut (@GutKamil) and Matt Press (@MatthewPress23) for updates throughout the game and the rest of the Indiana men’s soccer season. 

Like what you're reading?

Get more award-winning content delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Recap.

Signup today!
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 Indiana Daily Student