Adversity creates toughness. After a season plagued with struggles, Indiana men’s soccer upset No. 10 Wake Forest University in a 3-2 overtime win to advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
Earlier in the season, the Hoosiers struggled with games where they dominated possession but lost in isolated plays. Now, they've learned how to manage adversity and come out on top.
In the first half, Indiana had most of the dangerous chances but couldn’t convert.
Just three minutes into the game, senior defender Hugo Bacharach tried a half-volley from the top of the box that went over the crossbar. About seven minutes later, junior forward Tommy Mihalic fired a curling shot aimed at the lower right corner but Wake Forest junior goalkeeper Trace Alphin made a diving save.
In the 26th minute, freshman defender Alex Barger had two chances inside the 6-yard box after some pinball following a throw in, but both of his shots were blocked by the Demon Deacons’ defense.
Indiana still had two more dangerous chances within the last 10 minutes of the half. Junior forward Sam Sarver’s half-volley went just over the bar and senior defender Jansen Miller’s header was swallowed up by Alphin.
The Hoosiers finished the first half ahead in shot attempts – nine to four – but the Demon Deacons were more accurate, leading in shots on goal three to two. The Hoosiers led in corner kicks, with an advantage of six to zero.
Despite the numbers, Indiana went into halftime trailing by one. The Hoosiers played in many games where they controlled the match but failed to score, so they knew how to go about it.
“I think it’s the attacking restarts,” head coach Todd Yeagley said postgame regarding what they learned from earlier games. “We talk probably every week about what’s the phase of the game we can still be better to find goals we weren’t finding earlier, and a lot of our best chances tonight came off of our restarts or our press.”
Indiana opened the second half with Mihalic firing another shot from outside, this time aimed at the high left corner. Again, Alphin made the diving save to keep the Hoosiers off the board.
But it didn’t last long. Indiana took advantage of its edge on corners and scored off one 11 minutes into the half. Bacharach jumped higher than everyone else to head it into the net and tie the game at one.
Indiana kept pressuring but, with 22 minutes in the second half, Wake Forest junior forward Roald Mitchell received a through ball and infiltrated the box by himself. Indiana senior goalkeeper JT Harms tried to stop him and brought him down inside the box. Sophomore midfielder Vlad Walent stepped up to take the penalty kick and put Wake Forest ahead 2-1.
Just five minutes later, Indiana tied the game again after some confusion inside Wake Forest’s box. After the Demon Deacons’ defense couldn’t clear the ball after a cross, freshman forward Collins Oduro got to the ball first and fired from the top of the box. His shot deflected off senior forward Maouloune Goumballe’s feet and Alphin saved it, but senior forward Karsen Henderlong was there to bury the rebound and make it 2-2.
The game went to overtime, because of Indiana’s resiliency. The Hoosiers finished regulation with seven shots on goal in 19 attempts, while the Demon Deacons had five shots on goal in nine attempts. On top of that, Indiana led Wake Forest in corner kicks 10 to three.
The Hoosiers started overtime pressuring the Demon Deacons. Barger fired a half-volley just over the crossbar just a minute into overtime.
Indiana got its first lead of the game just three minutes later from another set piece. Junior midfielder Patrick McDonald launched one towards the box off a free kick and Bacharach finished with an acrobatic back heel to put the Hoosiers ahead 3-2.
Since Bacharach switched to midfield, Indiana is 10-1. Bacharach is not the only Hoosier to have stepped up late in the season, Goumballe has been on a hot streak lately, which granted him the nickname of Mr. November.
“I still think [Goumballe] is Mr. November, although Hugo is chasing him with two goals,” Yeagley said.
After the goal, Indiana managed Wake Forest’s desperation well and did not suffer any dangerous attacks for the rest of the game.
The Hoosiers finished the game with 22 total shots – nine on goal – and withheld the Demon Deacons to eight shots on goal in 12 attempts.
In a game when Indiana could have reverted to its earlier ways, the Hoosiers showed they learned from those defeats and proved they are no longer that team that couldn’t close out games.
“We had 13 corners and 20-some shots, that’s a lot,” Yeagley said. “A lot of those were kind of second actions, and we were dangerous on a lot of them.”
Now, Indiana advances to its ninth-straight NCAA Sweet 16 and faces No. 7 University of Virginia in the NCAA Tournament Third Round.
“There’s definitely a couple of [Mr.] Novembers and, if we keep this going, we’re going to need a [Mr.] December,” Yeagley said.