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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's soccer

Hoosier Army reach semi-finals in second edition of The Soccer Tournament

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Following a 3-1 loss to future champs Newtown Pride FC in 2023, the Hoosier Army exited The Soccer Tournament in a disappointing fashion. Despite holding the same record as fellow group members Kingdom FC, the Hoosier Army’s lower goal differential meant it was unable to achieve one of the two spots available to move on to the knockout stages. 

A year later, the team ensured goal differential would not affect its chances of moving on. Three victories out of three in the group stages brought the Hoosier Army to the knockout stages for the first time in its history, setting up for the team’s best performance in its short TST history. 

Beginning in 2023, TST is a seven-a-side soccer tournament held in Cary, North Carolina. The format features two 20-minute halves with a target score after both halves have been played. The target score is always one more than the leading team’s goal number, and the match ends once a team reaches the target score.  

In what is called the target score time, a player must leave the field every five minutes until only two are left or the target score has been attained. 

The Hoosier Army began its tournament against Trident FC in the first of three matches in the group stage. Despite ultimately achieving a 6-1 victory, the Hoosiers entered the first half only up 1-0. However, immediately out of the break, midfielder Nikita Kotlov headed a ball in at the back post to provide a cushion to the lead. 

With the floodgates now open, the Hoosier Army scored three of the next four goals in the game to take a 5-1 lead heading into the target score time. It didn’t take long for the Hoosiers to find the target goal, as midfielder Joris Ahlinvi slotted home a breakaway at the near post to grant the Hoosier Army its first victory of the tournament. 

In its second match of the group stage, the Hoosier Army faced off against Hoya Nation, a team comprised of Georgetown University alumni players. The match was much closer than the first, but goals in regulation from Ahlinvi and midfielder Jacob Bushue gave the Hoosiers a 2-1 lead. 

Down to only two field players and goalie Christian Lomeli, the Hoosier Army reached its target score of three when midfielder Tanner Thompson finished a low cross from midfielder Francesco Moore. 

The final match of the group stage against Freedom United SC provided few fireworks. It took until the 24th minute for Hoosier midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr to put the Hoosiers in front, then goals from Kotlov and midfielder Austin Panchot brought the score to 3-0.  

Even though Freedom United scored a goal near the end of regulation, the Hoosier Army took home the victory thanks to an Ahlinvi shot that trickled through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the net. 

The Hoosier Army’s first matchup of the knockout stage came against Villarreal CF. The Hoosiers’ defense held a clean sheet for the entire match — which has been the case for most of the tournament — as they moved on to the round of 16 with a 4-0 victory. 

The next stage of the knockout round for the Hoosier Army featured a rematch against Freedom United. A goal from Ahlinvi within the first minute proved to be the only goal in regulation, and another target score time winner from Thompson gave the Hoosiers a 2-0 triumph. 

Only three victories away from winning the tournament and $1 million, the Hoosier Army faced The Concafa FC, a team headlined by former Indianapolis Colts punter and current ESPN talk show host Pat McAfee. At the end of regulation, the score remained 0-0 with both defenses continuing their strong performances in the tournament. 

The critical goal of the match came seven minutes into the target score time. After receiving a through ball from Lomeli, Hoosier Army’s Moore slipped the ball across the net to a wide-open Panchot, who took a touch and placed the ball into the corner. 

Panchot’s goal sealed the Hoosier Army’s ticket to the semi-finals, while also capping off the lowest scoring game of the entire knockout stages. 

The final game in the Hoosier Army’s run came against La Bombonera. For the first time in the tournament, the Hoosiers faced a deficit when a shot deflected off Kotlov and ended up in the back of the net. Another goal seven minutes later gave La Bombonera a two-goal lead heading into the target score time. 

Thompson once again scored a target score time goal after finishing off a quick counterattack, but it was the only goal the Hoosier Army scored. La Bombonera scored seven minutes later and ended the Hoosiers’ tournament run with a 3-1 defeat. 

The Hoosier Army scored 21 goals across its seven games while only conceding six, three of which came in the semi-final defeat. Ahlinvi, Panchot and Thompson led the team with three goals each. 

The 2025 rendition of the tournament will likely take place in Cary, North Carolina, in the beginning of June.

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