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Indiana players celebrate after Indiana's win over Butler on Sept. 14. (HN photo/Max Wood)
Indiana players celebrate after Indiana's win over Butler on Sept. 14. (HN photo/Max Wood)

‘We were ready to fight back’: Indiana notches two unanswered goals to defeat Butler 2-1 in third consecutive win

It was Indiana's first comeback victory of the season

Jansen Miller dashed to his spot inside the 18-yard box on the designed corner kick play. He beat his defender, shut his eyes and headed the ball toward the net. 

"I told him last week, 'Jansen, you are really good, keep this up, we're gonna need you,'" Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said postgame. 

Wednesday night's top-25 matchup between No. 15 Indiana and No. 20 Butler in Indianapolis was the Xavier transfer's first regular season appearance in an Indiana uniform five matches into the season. 

Starting center back and captain Daniel Munie didn't play due to hamstring injury precautions, and Yeagley said Nyk Sessock, who slid over from right back to Munie's normal position to start the match, needed rest. 

Miller's sight faded.  

When he opened his eyes, the ball reached the back of the net for the equalizer in the 53rd minute. Miller had just "blacked out" for his first career-collegiate goal — across 28 matches (26 of which he started), and two different teams. 

That was only the true junior's ninth collegiate shot. 

"Learning from Joey [Maher] and Munie, I mean, I played at Xavier, but it's nothing compared to here," Miller said. "I just kept my head down and ready. I knew I'd be able to make something happen when my turn was called." 

Miller's goal was pretty spectacular. His momentum carried him in the opposite direction of the net when leaping for the ball. Yet still, he delivered a powerful enough strike to quickly blow the ball past Butler keeper Gabriel Gjergji. 

As Butler scored the go-ahead goal 30 seconds into the second half, Indiana's strong momentum it gathered in the final 25 minutes of the first half presumably vanished. Three consecutive shutout wins were now off the table. But thanks in part to Miller's momentum-swinging goal, the Hoosiers prevailed in what ultimately would be their first come-from-behind victory of the season — a 2-1 win over Butler. 

The Hoosiers started out boxed within their own half for the first 20 minutes as Butler held a 7-1 shot advantage. And though Indiana closed that gap to 8-5 at the break, it then only took less than a minute to fall behind. Yet, Yeagley remained confident given the team's first-half exit. After all, it was a battle between two top-25 teams and crosstown rivals — he said he expected the game to go back and forth. 

Less than 10 minutes following Butler's goal, Indiana punched right back with Miller's equalizer. And six minutes after that, Ryan Wittenbrink, a substitute just like Miller, tapped in a rebound goal after Gjergji failed to grasp the ball after initially stopping Herbert Endeley's rocketed shot. 

"They kind of just hit us in the face, but we were ready to fight back, so that was the mentality," Miller said. "No, I don't think anyone dropped their head when we saw that. There were 44 minutes left, and we knew we could do what we did." 

Indiana forward Ryan Wittenbrink runs during Indiana's win over Butler on Sept. 14. Wittenbrink scored the game-winning goal. (HN photo/Max Wood)

Butler attempted to equalize, outshooting Indiana 11-9 in the second half, accompanying a 7-3 corner kick advantage. But Indiana's backline held firm without one of its seasoned defenders. Maher, one of Indiana's other veteran defenders, came up with another successful one-on-one slide tackle with no immediate help nearby, similarly seen in the team's previous 2-0 shutout over No. 9 Akron. Goalkeeper JT Harms also saved four shots — including a bullet from outside the box in the latter half of the second half. 

Yeagley said this year's Butler team was one of the best he's seen in the past decade. Well, then there was no better time for Indiana to prove its resiliency in the team's first win at Butler since 2011. 

Wednesday night's win marks three straight for the Hoosiers, after losing and tieing once in their first two matches. They're in a groove — two top-25 wins in three matches, including one on the road. That could extend to three top-25 wins soon. Indiana's ranked gauntlet continues Sunday at No. 22 Ohio State in the conference opener.  

"Our guys are super present right now," Yeagley said. "They're enjoying every new challenge. They're not looking ahead. They knew our schedule was really challenging and they've not thought about what we're doing for that game, and if we don't win this, we're in trouble. They're like, let's just go to the next one."

Indiana forward Tommy Mihalic applauds after Indiana's win over Butler on Sept. 14. (HN photo/Max Wood)

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