Indiana men’s soccer advanced to the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament following a 2-1 win against Wisconsin.
Fresh off of a Big Ten regular season title, Indiana started its conference tournament journey against Wisconsin. The Hoosiers faced the Badgers in the regular season Sept. 15, with the teams settling for a scoreless draw. Friday’s match featured another close battle, with Indiana squeezing out a win.
The Hoosiers won the possesion battle early in the match, but it wasn’t by much as the Badgers had their fair share of possesion as well. Indiana wasn’t able to create many chances as a result of this, with Wisconsin limiting its recently high-flying offense.
“We could have created a little bit more,” head coach Todd Yeagley said after the match.
This left the Hoosiers with little margin for error when in front of the opposing net, but they were able to capitalize on two of their goal-scoring opportunities.
Indiana was awarded a penalty in the 13th minute after freshman forward Collins Oduro was fouled on the left side of Wisconsin’s box. The referee went to VAR to review the play, but ultimately stuck with his original decision and pointed to the spot. Senior defender Joey Maher stepped up to take the penalty for Indiana and converted it to give the Hoosiers an early lead.
“VAR check was a little longer than I was honestly wanting it to be,” Maher said. “The preparation is the same — just trying to block away all the other noise.”
This was the second consecutive Indiana penalty Maher has taken, and the senior has scored both of them.
“We’re blessed that we have a lot of (penalty takers),” Maher said. “My name’s just had to be called for the last couple, but we have multiple guys very capable of doing this.”
A second goal-scoring opportunity for Indiana came just 10 minutes into the second half, with junior forward Sam Sarver weaving his way through multiple defenders before putting in a cross. Senior forward Maoloune Goumballe was able to get a slight touch on the cross, creeping the ball into the back of the net. This marked Goumballe’s second goal in three matches, as he has slowly begun to hit a goal-scoring stride after a slow start to the season.
“It was good. It really builds confidence, and its good I’m getting them at this point of the season,” Goumballe said. “I’ve been focusing on ending my runs in the frame of the goal.”
Indiana didn’t create many chances outside of its two goals and relied on its defense and junior goalkeeper JT Harms to close out the win. Wisconsin threw numbers forward trying to get a late equalizer after scoring a goal with 15 minutes left to play.
“Biggest thing for us, especially after they got that goal, was just weather the storm,” Maher said.
Indiana was able to hold off Wisconsin’s attacks, with Harms playing a major role in the team not conceding an equalizer. Harms had multiple saves down the stretch after not having much to deal with earlier in the match.
Yeagley also said the improvement in the backline’s communication with Harms was important for them maintaining the lead.
“The really good news with JT is he won’t get rattled,” Yeagley said.