SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – As the final whistle sounded on the 2018 Indiana soccer season, IU senior defender Andrew Gutman stood with his hands on his hips inside Indiana’s attacking 18-yard box.
It was almost as if he didn’t know what to do. The MAC Hermann trophy finalist had finished his final collegiate game and the Hoosiers fell short of their third and ultimate goal of the 2018 season. Many other players sunk to their knees or fell to the ground. After coming up short last season in the title match, 2018 was a shot at redemption. It just wasn’t meant to be.
In a season where many bounces went Indiana’s way, Friday was a night where that was the opposite. The Terrapins put two goals in the back of the net and ended Indiana’s season in stunning fashion with a 2-0 defeat in the College Cup semifinals.
“We created a lot of good chances,” IU defender Andrew Gutman said. “The ball just didn’t bounce our way a couple of times. We weren’t that sharp in the chances we did create. At the end of the day, their defense made a lot of clean interceptions at that pivotal moment.”
Coming into Friday’s match, both Maryland and Indiana had yet to allow a goal in the NCAA Tournament. Indiana’s last goal allowed was to the Terrapins in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Ben Di Rosa scored that goal, while Friday’s goal came from Ben’s brother, Matt.
One of the biggest takeaways was Indiana’s inability to finish in the final third. Indiana outshot the Terrapins 15-10. When Maryland scored its first goal in the 37th minute, there was still confidence within the Hoosiers that a goal would come. Yet it didn’t.
“It’s not like we haven’t given up a goal all year,” Gutman said. “The main thing, for me as a leader on this team, is I try to get everyone together real quick after a goal and make sure everyone keeps their head on straight. That’s what we did. When they scored, no one panicked. We were still calm and confident we would create chances, and we did, but we couldn’t put them away.”
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 8, 2018
One of the biggest keys to the game from Maryland, and a difference from the game in the Big Ten Tournament, was center back Donovan Pines. Indiana had been successful all season long with crosses into the box and on restarts. Pines was able to neutralize both of those areas and it made it stifled Indiana’s attack.
IU coach Todd Yeagley said Indiana tried to avoid Pines by playing balls in behind and in front of the 6-foot-5 center back. The Hoosiers did a decent job in doing that in the second half, but the goal never came.
“We truly feel that every single game that if we play our best, we can get the job done and get the win,” IU midfielder Austin Panchot said. “Like we’ve been talking about, it didn’t quite go our way. There were moments we could have done better, but I think I speak for myself and everyone else on the field, we gave it our all. There wasn’t a second we had that jersey on where we weren’t giving it everything we could.”
— Indiana On BTN (@IndianaOnBTN) December 8, 2018
When a season ends like it did for Indiana, it can be so sudden. The Hoosiers, just like the other three teams at the College Cup, came to Santa Barbara expecting to play in Sunday’s championship game.
But for Indiana, it instead means seeing eight seniors leaving the team with the potential for a few more starters to leave, as well. Yeagley said this year’s team would be remembered as one of the best in IU history. Yet, the one goal they wanted will be left without a checkmark next to it, unlike the other two they set. Digesting what happened will no doubt take some time.
“There’s nothing a parent, a coach, anyone can say,” Yeagley said. “You just need time to let the emotions calm and then recognize what you’ve done.”