Near post or far post, it didn’t matter for Indiana sophomore defender Brett Bebej on Thursday afternoon. Simply serve it up and Bebej would find a way to rifle the ball through the net, or at least it seemed that way in No. 23 IU’s 4-0 win over Wisconsin.
Though the windy conditions in Madison made for unpredictable services, set-pieces and kicks all match long, the Hoosiers’ midfield duo of redshirt senior Spencer Glass and Bebej remained in sync.
A corner kick from Glass in the 25th minute found Bebej waiting near the post who eventually polished off the goal from almost point-blank range. Then, in the 54th minute, Bebej and Glass struck again, this time connecting on a corner-kick serve to the far post that set up Bebej’s second tally off a header and Glass’ second assist of the day.
Had it not been for junior defender Nyk Sessock’s return to the Starting XI, though, Bebej’s first career brace might not have even happened against the Badgers. Prior to Thursday’s matinee, Bebej had started the previous two matches exclusively at right back filling in for the injured Sessock. What was supposed to be a stop-gap of sorts until Sessock found his way back on the field, soon became a revelation for the Hoosiers.
And against Wisconsin, with Sessock reinserted back into the lineup, IU head coach Todd Yeagley couldn’t keep his newfound revelation off the field, instead inserting Bebej in the midfield, where he paid Yeagley handsomely with a pair of goals.
Elsewhere, the Hoosiers used another pair of goals from Herbert Endeley and Joey Maher, the first of his career, to sink the proverbial dagger into the Badgers. Endeley’s early second-half goal grew IU’s lead to 2-0, using a well-placed service from Victor Bezerra down the right flank that the sophomore forward finished with a diving shot. Maher’s goal, IU’s fourth and final of the day, came in the 81st minute courtesy of another corner kick that rattled around in front of the net and landed at the freshman defender’s feet.
However, the lopsided final score was anything but indicative of Wisconsin’s effort. Rather, the Badgers put the Hoosiers’ backline in several precarious situations and forced sophomore goalkeeper Roman Celentano to make six saves including a big stop late in the first half. While both sides fired off 12 shots apiece, Wisconsin finished the match with a 6-5 shot-on-goal advantage, with four coming in the final 31 minutes.
The win comes at an opportune time for IU as it entered Thursday’s contest on an 11-day hiatus and exited with some much-needed momentum. Indiana looked out of sorts in their loss to Northwestern on Feb. 27, and a postponed home-opener against Penn State last Sunday didn’t help matters.
No matter, the Hoosiers returned their dominate ways by sweeping the season series with the Badgers and recording their third clean sheet of the season. With the win, Indiana improves to 3-1 on the season and is now in a three-way tie with Michigan and Ohio State for first place in the Big Ten standings.
Next up, Indiana makes its long-awaited return to Bill Armstrong Stadium on Monday afternoon as it gets set to host Michigan State at 2 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.