Indiana Daily Student

Indiana men’s soccer draws No. 8 Maryland 1-1 to close regular season, falls to fourth in B1G

<p>Sophomore forward Samuel Sarver goes after the ball against Maryland on Oct. 30, 2022, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana men&#x27;s soccer finished fourth in the Big Ten after ending its regular season with a 1-1 draw against Maryland.</p>

Sophomore forward Samuel Sarver goes after the ball against Maryland on Oct. 30, 2022, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana men's soccer finished fourth in the Big Ten after ending its regular season with a 1-1 draw against Maryland.

Redshirt senior forward Ryan Wittenbrink, with his hands on his head, stood motionless near Indiana men’s soccer’s sideline. Not too far from him, senior defender Nyk Sessock stared longingly toward the sea of euphoric yellow jerseys.

After conceding an equalizing goal to No. 8 Maryland in the 87th minute of Sunday’s match at Bill Armstrong Stadium, the Hoosiers saw their regular season title hopes vanish in the blink of an eye. A win from a middling Wisconsin side over Ohio State was crucial for Indiana to have a chance at the title, and they got that.

The last piece of the puzzle, however, was a win for head coach Todd Yeagley’s squad. With just 180 fateful seconds left to play, the Terrapins negated that possibility.

“It (was) a quiet locker room. They knew what was on the line,” Yeagley said of his team after the match. “They’re disappointed. It would’ve been disappointing if it was the third Big Ten game because you concede late.”

For the majority of the match, the Hoosiers were on the front foot. Early on, sophomore forward Sam Sarver and senior forward Herbert Endeley influenced a couple of threatening opportunities.

Maryland’s backline had its hands full with Indiana’s high-powered attack, particularly on crosses. In the ninth minute, junior defender Joey Maher flicked a header toward goal, but Terrapin senior goalkeeper Niklas Neumann thwarted the chance.

A little over midway into the first half, the Hoosiers found the back of the net. Sarver was taken down near the top of Maryland’s box, and Wittenbrink stepped up to the ball to line up his free kick.

He whipped a curling strike past Neumann’s outstretched gloves into the top corner, drawing raucous cheers from the home crowd as Indiana found itself ahead.

“He’s been training it, he’s been clinical all year. He’s feeling it,” Yeagley said of Wittenbrink. “I thought he had an average first 25 (minutes), it was not Ryan’s best day offensively. But even those moments are reason why we might extend his minutes. He can change the game.”

Junior goalkeeper JT Harms, perhaps surprisingly, was given the start in net. He oversaw a clean first half with danger rarely making its way toward him, but he was forced to make some plays in the second period.

Shortly after the break, Maryland junior forward Stefan Copetti fired a low blast toward Harms from around the penalty spot. Harms quickly dove to his left and redirected the strike out of bounds for a corner kick.

Even with stellar play from the backline, it was known prior to the match that whoever started in goal would need a couple of brilliant moments to ward off the Terrapins. With that save, the Hoosiers got one.

“He had a good game. I thought JT (Harms) did a good job of commanding the box,” Yeagley said. “I thought it was a good, solid performance.”

With around 20 minutes remaining in the match, Maryland exercised a heightened urgency to equalize. The Hoosiers were pushed onto their heels and fought endlessly to clear away Terrapin chances — and until the 87th minute — they did just that.

But as Hoosier fans sensed the possibility of a Big Ten title seemingly at their fingertips, the visitors spoiled the day. Redshirt sophomore forward Joshua Bolma sent a long, out-swinging cross into Indiana’s box.

Copetti fought off senior defender Brett Bebej and soared to power his header past Harms. Though some time remained for the Hoosiers to mount a miraculous winning effort, the final result was inevitable.

“This had postseason feel, which is good. I like the way we competed,” Yeagley said. “Once they went really heavy with numbers forward, you’re naturally going to be in a deeper block. Yet, we have a lot of things in front of us to play for.”

As Maryland rushed the field to celebrate its Big Ten regular season title, the Hoosiers’ disappointment was heavy. In just three minutes, Indiana went from a potential No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament to now No. 4.

Still, the Hoosiers secured home-field advantage for the first round of the conference tournament. On Friday, Nov. 4, the Hoosiers will host their quarterfinal game against Penn State. The time is yet to be determined.

Follow reporters Kamil Gut (@GutKamil) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) for updates throughout 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