Indiana needed heroics in the 92nd minute in its season opener at Notre Dame. Something special. Anything, really.
First step — Herbert Endeley whips a ball in from the left side. He only finds the head of a Notre Dame defender, knocking it out of the box.
Second step — A loose ball inside the goalkeeper box, just one IU snipe to rectify a less-than-stellar night.
Third step — Ben Yeagley finds the ball at his feet. He prods forward.
Fourth step — For just the fifth time as an Indiana Hoosier, he rifles a shot.
Weak footed, on the half volley, with the outside of his foot. It was there for the taking. A win. A celebration. A dogpile.
For a player who has never scored a goal in a crimson kit, the redshirt junior picked the perfect moment for his first.
— Matt Wilhoit (@mattwilhoit) August 28, 2021
It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough.
In a match where Notre Dame dominated Indiana in many aspects, it came down to five minutes — enough to IU come from behind and take down the Fighting Irish, 3-2.
“It might not be the 5-4 we saw last week, it might be 2-1, 1-0, but it’s two teams really going at it.” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said in anticipation of the season opener.
While incorrect on the number of goals, Yeagley was right in the nature of the result.
Notre Dame might have played better than Indiana. But the reason Indiana advanced to the College Cup finals 105 days ago remains: the Hoosiers know how to pull out results.
IU did itself no favors in escaping South Bend triumphant, though.
While Indiana received a jolt via the return of All-American left back Spencer Glass, it lost perhaps the most crucial piece when MAC Hermann Trophy favorite Victor Bezerra went off with what seemed to be a non-contact knee injury in the second half.
Notre Dame struck first in the 10th minute, with a Jack Lynn rebound opening things up. The opening goal was deserved. Indiana failed to defend a ball into the right channel, and the ball into the box wasn’t dealt with.
But the Hoosiers responded. Freshman midfielder Tommy Mihalic brought down a long ball forward, dropped his shoulder, and executed a low finish past Fighting Irish goalkeeper Brian Dowd to equalize the game in the 34th minute.
In the second half, Indiana again failed to properly deal with a Fighting Irish attacking move, which ended with a Dawson McCartney left-footed shot finding the bottom corner.
The wait for the response from Indiana ticked on until the last five minutes, when freshman Samuel Sarver drew a penalty kick after a handball in the box. Mihalic stepped up to take the penalty.
But he followed it up, corralling the rebound and sending a booming thud into the back of the nylon netting. Tied at two in the 87th minute.
With momentum on IU’s side heading into the golden-goal period, Ben Yeagley had game-closer on his mind — just like his father a few decades ago.
“I’d say it’s just really small defensive moments of detail, whether it’s communication or one-twos, that we could have been a bit more locked in on,” Todd Yeagley said in the lead-up to the match. Those issues weren’t resolved against Notre Dame, and still need attention.
What could have been an ugly result to start a campaign with high hopes, turned into a momentous comeback victory.
All-American goalkeeper Roman Celentano certainly won’t find forget it.
“Maybe we don’t play tiki-taka, we don’t build out from the back like that, but we’re here to win games, so we just find ways to win,” Celentano said before the season.
While it may not have started well for Indiana, it ended with Yeagley at the bottom of a pile of Hoosiers.