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Indiana survives physical match with Ohio State to setup rematch with Maryland

Aidan Morris laid on the ground just outside the center-circle early in the second half. 

Jack Maher pleaded to the third official after an elbow from Ohio State forward Devyn Etling collided with the face of Morris, another chapter in the battle that ensued between the two all afternoon. 

The officials granted Maher his wish and awarded Etling his second yellow card of the match in the 51st minute, sending off Ohio State’s leading goal scorer and leaving a banged up team with just 10 men on the pitch to finish the match. 

Freshman Josh Penn scored his team-best 6th goal of the season in the 2-0 win over Ohio State. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

It was a reminder of the physicality that postseason soccer brings. Gone are the 5-1 score lines of the regular season; replaced by the matches riddled with fouls and yellow cards with only a fine line to separate the two teams. 

On Sunday, the fine line was just two goals. Less than two weeks ago on the same field, IU blitzed Ohio State to the tune of a four-goal victory. But the postseason tightened things up.

The rotation tightens up. The officiating too. And the gap between teams becomes that much smaller. 

“We knew today would be tight and it became pretty physical from the get-go,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “It surprised me a little bit because you usually know how opponents are going to go but this surprised me. But I feel like our guys handled it well.” 

IU completed its first goal of the season last Sunday against Michigan State: the Big Ten Regular Season title. Sunday, it took the first step in winning the Big Ten double for the second straight year.

It took 42 minutes for IU to breakthrough on the scoreboard, but Josh Penn’s finish inside the 18-yard box ensured it got the first goal it needed. 

After playing 90 minutes the day before, it seemed likely that Ohio State would be content with sitting back and letting the action play out in front of them. 

But the Buckeyes, even without star Jack Holland for a majority of the match, controlled the midfield and played enough quality looks on the net to keep Roman Celentano attentive inside the six-yard box. 


IU knew Ohio State wouldn’t go down quietly. A team on the verge of its season ending with every reason for redemption wouldn’t sit idly by. It’s tough to beat a team twice in a season, let alone twice in two weeks. 

“Every game is going to be physical and up tempo at this point so you’re going to be fighting for the little things like the possession of the ball, so it’s something you expect going in,” Penn said.

And it didn’t do it without a battle. IU’s quarterfinal matchup with Ohio State was littered with fouls. 18 for Ohio State. 10 to Indiana. When you throw in the four yellow cards for both teams, it added up to a busy day for the three-man officiating crew.

Morris had to be held back after an Ohio State challenge in front of the IU bench during the first half. Victor Bezerra picked up a yellow card early and A.J. Palazzolo nearly received one as well.

“It was a good way to not lose your cool,” Yeagley said. “There were some really hard challenges and I thought our young guys handled it well. They were a little feisty but I think they calmed themselves down and didn’t give the official any reason to book them.”


Etling’s second yellow card and subsequent red couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Already off the high of Penn’s goal just before halftime, IU used every ounce of momentum it could find into a search for an insurance goal.

In a season where freshmen dominated the headlines, it was two veteran players that put the match on ice. 

Spencer Glass and his well-coined “best left-foot in soccer” found a cutting Palazzolo at the back of the box to give IU a 2-0 lead with five minutes. Behind some last minute efforts from Celentano, IU preserved the two goal victory and ensured a return trip to College Park.

“It’s a little buffer to give you some ease on defense and shut them down a little,” Glass said. “Ultimately you’re happy getting the shutout and not allowing them to score anything.”

Maryland defeated Northwestern 1-0 less than an hour after IU clinched its trip back, setting up an eagerly awaited semifinal Friday night. IU’s lone conference defeat remains at the hands of the Terrapins in front of 4,800 fans back in mid-October.

Since then, IU has found its stride with five consecutive victories, outscoring opponents 16-2 along the way. This marks the fifth match between the two squads in two year, with each team winning a pair and Maryland taking the last two.

That semifinal match will be a dogfight, one filled with physical play and surely a card or two. It’s what you come to expect when the stakes are raised and tensions are high in postseason play.

As IU found out Sunday with Ohio State, from here on out, every team is going to give its all. Seasons are on the line and playing careers remain in the balance. It’s that time of the season where quite literally anything can happen.

But for one afternoon, IU made sure the only thing that happened was a return trip to College Park; and a chance for revenge.

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