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Indiana forward Nate Ward is pictured during Indiana's win over Butler on Sept. 14. (HN photo/Max Wood)
Indiana forward Nate Ward is pictured during Indiana's win over Butler on Sept. 14. (HN photo/Max Wood)

‘Physically we looked out of sorts’: No. 15 Indiana falls 2-1 at No. 22 Ohio State in third straight match against top-25 opponent

The Hoosiers’ three-game winning streak came to an end

Herbert Endeley received the ball at midfield knee-high, faked kicking with the side of his foot, and instead, let the ball dip toward the ground before tapping it around a striped white jersey. 

Endeley rushed forward, dodging one slide tackle, and dribbling so quickly that by the time the other Ohio State defender bent his knee to challenge, Endeley had already passed. 

The fourth and final defender slowly backpedaled just outside the box. And as soon as he ran to meet the Indiana forward, he was caught flat-footed, as Endeley grew dangerously closer to the net. 

Ohio State keeper Max Trejo hesitated — perhaps pondering whether to charge or give ground. Caught in the middle of both decisions, Endeley chipped the ball over the diving keeper, displaying the same control that started the midfield run. 

"Herb's been great for us, making a goal out of sometimes nothing in this case," Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said postgame. "He did take two or three guys on and find the finish. But yeah, Herb's been sick this week. So he was battling — he made a special play. We didn't have enough of those today." 

No. 15 Indiana trailed 2-1 with 20 minutes remaining in the match — and ultimately fell to No. 22 Ohio State by the same score at full-time Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes, off to one of their best starts in program history, remained undefeated while snapping Indiana's three-match winning streak. This was Ohio State’s first win over Indiana since 2015 through eight attempts. 

Endeley helped the Hoosiers avoid their first shutout loss of the season in the team's conference opener — which would have been a much more brutal defeat to handle. Yet, at the time, that was only Indiana's first shot on goal — through 70 minutes. Entering halftime, Ohio State led 2-0 along with a 5-1 shot advantage. 

Precise and quick passes in the box between Xavier Green and Devyn Etling weaved through Indiana's backline, leading to the first goal. And a prolonged possession in the attacking third from the Buckeyes a few minutes before halftime — which Indiana failed to clear — led to the second. 

"We didn't do a lot of good things," Yeagley said. "That was a really slow performance in a lot of ways. I don't quite know what happened, but maybe we did too much this week. There really wasn't much bounce today." 

Indiana defeated No. 9 Akron 2-0 on Sept. 9, and snatched a come-from-behind 2-1 victory on the road at No. 20 Butler last Wednesday. In those contests, Indiana tallied 33 shots combined — and more than half were on target. Yet on Sunday, Ohio State outshot Indiana 14-5, and 7-3 in shots on goal. 

"I don't know, just physically we looked out of sorts," Yeagley said. "...but they played in the same conditions we did. I was just disappointed in the pop to our game. Ninety degrees, really slow field against a good team that's obviously jacked up for the conference opener. You can't perform like that and expect to win." 

Indiana was without 2021 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Daniel Munie against Butler, and the team surrendered two goals. The same outcome happened against Ohio State. 

And similar to facing Butler, Indiana trailed first Sunday, yet this time, failed to find the equalizer. 

Endeley's goal did spark the team though, and a few close chances followed in the final 20 minutes. An Ohio State defender standing on the goal line blocked Ryan Wittenbrink's shot in the box, Wittenbrink then slightly mistimed a header in the box, and Nyk Sessock's rocketed shot outside the box was saved.

None trickled into the net. Chances arrived too little, too late. 

But what was Yeagley's response when asked if early setbacks deter him and the team? 

"No, we've been able to find our way to the top after a loss... points are pivotal, and you don't want any to slip away, (but) we've just got to perform better. I'm disappointed we gave points, but I was more disappointed on performance." 

Perhaps the Hoosiers simply fell flat in their taxing third consecutive match against top-25 teams. Yet, they soon return to Big Ten play this upcoming Friday on their home turf against Michigan State — a solid chance to get back on track in pursuit of the team’s 18th conference title.

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