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IU defeats Northwestern 2-1: A similar situation, but different result

Justin Rennicks scored his fourth goal of the season in IU’s 2-1 win over Northwestern. (Mark Timko/HN)

Indiana’s motivation to win its match against Northwestern on Wednesday night stemmed from a game played nearly a year ago — when the Hoosiers had the Big Ten regular season title in their sights.

Michigan State was the only thing that stood between Indiana and the hardware to cap off a historic 2017 regular season. The game ended in a draw, and the Hoosiers saw the Big Ten title slip from their hands.

11 months later, IU was in the same situation — valuable Big Ten points on the line in the midst of a tie game. The result was different this time around.

No, the Hoosiers’ 2-1 win over Northwestern was not on the last day of the season, and the Big Ten title was not on the line. But valuable points were, and they will continue to be valuable until the final whistle blows on the final day of the regular season.

Indiana was able to grind out a win, which saw the Wildcats play a conservative game for the majority of the 90 minutes. IU played similar games in 2017 that ended in draws. It happened against Maryland, Michigan and Michigan State, and the same story kept reoccurring — Indiana couldn’t find the game-winning goal and settled for a draw.

Yet, that didn’t happen this time around. Things were different.

There were only four minutes left on the clock at Bill Armstrong Stadium when the go-ahead goal was scored. IU was outshooting Northwestern 21-4, but the game was deadlocked at one goal apiece after Northwestern scored an equalizer in the 55th minute. The Hoosiers were stuck in a familiar situation.

Sophomore midfielder Spencer Glass danced around two defenders on the left side of the 16-yard box. Glass slid to the end line to save the ball from going out of bounds while crossing it into the middle of the box. Sophomore attacker Griffin Dorsey connected his boot with the cross, sending the ball into the back of the net and winning the game for Indiana.

The match had been tied for 31 minutes before IU found the go-ahead goal, but sophomore attacker Justin Rennicks who scored IU’s first goal, said the team wasn’t worried about drawing against the Wildcats.

“We were pushing them so hard that we really weren’t that worried,” Rennicks said. “Yeah, it’s 1-1 — they might sit back a little bit, but we just had so many chances, so many shots that we knew we were going to get one.”

That same mindset is the difference between this year’s team compared to 2017’s. IU only lost three players from last season’s squad, so nearly everyone on the roster is familiar with the feeling of drawing a game in which they dominated. It was evident Wednesday night that they’ve learned from past experiences.

“There’s just a lot of drive in this group to win the regular season title — just plain and simple,” Head Coach Todd Yeagley said. “They know every game, those points on the board are there to be taken, and this team is the one in the way of that. I don’t have to say much besides preparing them and tendencies.”

Yeagley said the team was disappointed with the way last year’s regular season ended, but when Northwestern scored the equalizer off its first shot of the game, he wasn’t worried. He was taken aback by the way the Wildcat goal came, but he knew his players would be able to grind out the win.

The key to the team’s ability to finish games this year is in its motivation. The Hoosiers were on the short end of the stick three times last year. They lost the Big Ten regular season title, they lost the Big Ten Tournament championship, and they lost the national championship. They’re also determined to not let those same things happen again this year. They know how valuable Big Ten points can be.

“This team has been down already this year, and I know last year there was a point where we hadn’t trailed in a game,” Yeagley said. “But this team is led by so many experienced guys that have been winning and losing. They know that things can turn. We have so many attacking options and threats that it really did feel like [the goal] was coming.”

Michael Ramirez

I am a junior from Dallas, Texas, and am currently studying Media in the Media School and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. I worked for the Indiana Daily Student for the past two years where I covered men’s basketball, men’s soccer, water polo and cross country. I also served as the Sports Editor in the Spring of 2018. I am a member/radio host for WIUX, and I host a weekly podcast to talk anything and everything sports. Past internships include Digital Content for FC Dallas and sports reporting for Star Local Media. You can reach me at michrami@iu.edu or on Twitter @michrami_ for all your Dallas and Tottenham sports takes.

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