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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's soccer

Penalty heartbreak returns as Indiana men’s soccer eliminated from NCAA Tournament


Indiana men’s soccer was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament after losing to No. 2 University of Notre Dame in penalties on Saturday. 

Indiana followed up its narrow 1-0 win against the University of Virginia on Nov. 26 with another nail-biting match against Notre Dame. The Hoosiers first faced the Fighting Irish on Aug. 24, with the teams sharing the points in a 1-1 draw. A draw wasn’t an option in this Elite Eight matchup, with the match going all the way to penalties. 

The Hoosiers had a slow start, conceding a goal just 16 minutes into the match. Notre Dame senior forward Daniel Russo converted a free kick from just outside Indiana’s box to give the Fighting Irish the lead. Notre Dame continued to pressure Indiana but didn’t score another goal and went into the break with a 1-0 lead.  

Indiana came out of halftime playing more aggressively, searching for an equalizer. The Hoosiers’ adjustments paid off, with junior midfielder Patrick McDonald bringing the match level in the 62nd minute. The equalizing goal gave Indiana a jolt of energy, as they dominated the rest of regulation and overtime. Despite creating chances and maintaining possession, the Hoosiers weren’t able to find the winning goal, which sent the match to penalties.  

Indiana missed its first penalty with senior defender Joey Maher failing to convert the opening kick of the shootout after hitting the left post. Indiana converted the rest of their penalties in the shootout, but it wasn’t enough as Notre Dame scored all of their penalties. Senior goalkeeper JT Harms guessed the direction of one of Notre Dame’s penalties and got a hand on the ball, but he wasn’t able to keep it out of the net. 

The Hoosiers are no strangers to penalty heartbreak, as their last season ended in penalty kicks in the NCAA national championship against Syracuse University. Saturday’s loss marks the fifth consecutive season in which Indiana’s NCAA Tournament run has ended in either penalties or overtime — all of which have sent the Hoosiers home empty-handed.  

Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said that these losses have weighed on him as a coach. 

“I know the players feel it more,” Yeagley said postgame. “I have a lot of weight, but they’re the ones that I put out there, they’re the ones that compete.” 

Yeagley said he knows losing in such close fashion causes pain beyond the locker room. 

“It hurts me a lot,” Yeagley said. “It’s as much for everybody else, the players, the program, our alums, IU fans.” 

The Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament run ended in heartbreak, but early in the season, it seemed Indiana might not even make the tournament. Indiana failed to win its first three conference games and lost to the University of Washington in its third overall match. Indiana managed to turn its season around, winning the Big Ten Tournament title and sharing the Big Ten regular season title with Penn State. 

“We just improved in multiple areas that were holding us back,” Yeagley said. “ Our shots on goal, our restarts got better. Guys were playing better; we made a couple of adjustments to our lineup.”  

Although Indiana’s season ended sooner than it may have expected, Yeagley believes this season increased his team’s fan base. 

“We made a lot of fans this year,” Yeagley said. “IU fans — they like us and understood what this program is all about.”

Follow reporters Leo Paes (@Leordpaes) and Jovanni Salazar (@jio_duz_it) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s soccer season.

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