Five — When Herbert Endeley was just five years old, him and his family moved to Tanzania, over 8,300 miles away from his birthplace in Minnesota.
His father, Isaac, worked for the United Nations at the time, and the job necessitated a move halfway across the world.
While in Tanzania, Herbert latched on to one of the locals’ favorite sports: soccer. And he never let go.
Ten — In 2010, Herbert and his family moved back home to Minnesota.
Of course, the game of soccer followed him back to the United States. His passion was only just beginning to burn.
Eighteen — In 2018, Herbert was named Gatorade Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year in Minnesota. He scored 24 goals and tallied 11 assists in his senior season at Totino-Grace High School.
Nineteen — In 2019, Herbert scored a golden goal in double overtime to lead Indiana past Pittsburgh in the opening match of the regular season. It was Herbert’s first collegiate goal in his collegiate debut.
He ended his freshman campaign with two goals, three assists, and a spot on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
Twenty-one — On May 14, 2021, Herbert’s game-winning goal in the 79th minute lifted Indiana past Pittsburgh and into the program’s 16th College Cup finals.
Amid a sea of crimson jerseys jumping up and down in unison, a 5-foot-10 forward stood at the epicenter of it all.
Amid a flurry of Pittsburgh players trying to dispossess a streaking ball headed for the back of the net, Indiana’s hero never once flinched.
Amid a rush of media questions waiting to be answered during a postgame press conference, Herbert Endeley looked forward, straight into the computer camera, and said this:
“I knew that it could possibly take one shot for us to win the game. I knew that I was feeling it this game.”
One shot was all he needed to cement himself into the pantheon of all-time IU men’s soccer moments. One shot to put the Hoosiers within one win of the coveted ninth national championship.
Through 78 minutes, no other player, Hoosier or Panther, could seem to solve the goal-scoring drought.
Endeley made sure it wouldn’t go on a minute longer, even if he had to take care of it himself.
So he took the ball and began his ascent, dodging, dipping and darting his way through Pittsburgh’s last line of defense. Like a sports car finding its sixth gear at the last possible moment, Endeley finally burst through. The window of opportunity was there.
Endeley squared his body, loaded the rifle in his right foot, and unleashed the shot.
Cue: Deafening screams from large portions of the 2,667 fans in attendance at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, North Carolina.
“I just tried to split two defenders,” Endeley said. “And the finishing we’ve been working on in practice and all the small details, I think ultimately those added up today and helped us win the game.”
But the attention to small details didn’t just begin this season for Endeley.
It started in Tanzania when he first discovered his love for soccer.
It transferred back to his home town of Blaine, Minn., where he became one of the most prolific scorers in state history.
It manifested throughout his entire freshman campaign in 2019 when he forced his way into the starting lineup and gave IU’s coaching staff no reason to take him out.
It continued through all last summer and fall when COVID-19 pushed the entire 2020 season into the spring.
And now, the small details are turning into big rewards.
“Herb, he’s worked so hard on his finishing,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said. “He’s always been an unbelievable unbalancer, and now his finishing is coming around. He’s just a great young man.”
It almost wasn’t mean to be, though.
The game-winning goal, the mad dash to hoist Endeley off the ground in celebration, the postgame remarks — all of it nearly became Endeley’s fantasy, not his reality.
For much of the first half, Indiana was out-shot, out-possessed and out-played. The Panthers’ relentless attack had the Hoosiers scrambling to even get out of their own half of the field.
After 45 minutes, with Pittsburgh holding a commanding 6-3 shot advantage and 3-1 corner-kick advantage, Indiana knew it had to switch something up, and quickly.
“Ultimately, our game plan in the second half was to just come out stronger,” Endeley said. “And we knew that we’d be able to finish out the job if we just stuck to our principles.”
Yeagley confirms those principles: “The difference was our defensive principles in key moments. The adaptability of this team is fantastic. The resilience is phenomenal.”
Never mind the herky-jerky first half.
Forget the handful of point-blank misses and shots clanking off the goal frame from Pittsburgh.
Bottom line: Indiana keeps finding ways to win, and it’s led them to the doorstep of a ninth national championship.
Only now, the Hoosiers’ secret weapon — Endeley — isn’t so secret anymore. It’s just another role he’ll have to learn to adapt to.
“Everyone knows their role and is one-hundred percent in it, and that’s what you need,” Yeagley said.