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10/30/2022
Indiana goalkeeper JT Harms walks through the rain after Indiana's 1-1 draw with Maryland on Oct. 30. (HN photo/Eden Snower)
Indiana goalkeeper JT Harms walks through the rain after Indiana's 1-1 draw with Maryland on Oct. 30. (HN photo/Eden Snower)

Decision Day drama: A timeline of every goal Sunday as the Big Ten regular season came down to the wire

All four Big Ten matches held some sort of significance

The final day of every regular season, regardless of the sport, always brings suspense. For some teams, it’s the last time they will play in several months. For others, they are fighting to play another day.

On Sunday in the Big Ten, the last day of the regular season meant there was a trophy to be handed out in Bloomington, as Indiana battled Maryland for the second season in a row on Decision Day.

Elsewhere across the conference, three other matches were going on simultaneously as everything was left to play for. All four matches held some sort of significance one way or another.

Before we move forward, let’s take a look at the standings before Sunday’s matches commenced:

Maryland - 15 points

Ohio State - 14 points

Rutgers - 14 points

Indiana - 12 points

Michigan State - 10 points

Penn State - 9 points

Wisconsin - 7 points

Michigan - 4 points

Northwestern - 2 points

With an odd number of men’s soccer programs in the conference, one team was sitting and watching on Sunday. That team was Rutgers, who couldn’t win the Big Ten title, but could have jumped up a spot and finished second if results went their way.

Indiana hosted Maryland, Ohio State traveled to Wisconsin, Michigan State welcomed Northwestern, and Penn State visited Michigan.

Maryland controlled its own destiny. If the Terrapins won, they were Big Ten champs. If they failed to do so, it opened the door for Ohio State to jump them and claim the title. And then there was the casual fan’s dream: A three-way tie between the Buckeyes, Terrapins, and Hoosiers, only if Indiana beat Maryland AND Ohio State drew to Wisconsin. In that case, Indiana would have been at the top on goal differential within the conference given the teams went 1-1 versus one another.

On the other side of the table, Northwestern and Michigan were playing for their respective seasons, considering the team that finishes last does not advance to the Big Ten Tournament.

Nothing was finalized entering Sunday, so it set up for an entertaining two-hour window. Here’s a timeline of every key moment across the four matches, all times eastern:

1:01 — Ohio State and Wisconsin kick off from Dan McClimon Memorial Track/Soccer Complex in Madison. Buckeyes have the chance to finish first, or drop to fourth, while the Badgers can only end up in sixth or seventh, where they began.

1:02 Northwestern and Michigan State begin in East Lansing. The Wildcats need a win to give them a chance to finish eighth, while the Spartans’ final place is going to be either fourth, fifth or sixth.

1:05 — Indiana and Maryland get the ball rolling on a rainy afternoon in Bloomington. In the marquee matchup with a national audience, Maryland is guaranteed to finish in the top two, while Indiana can finish anywhere between first and fifth.

1:06 — The final match gets underway between Penn State and Michigan at U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Nittany Lions have the chance to jump up to fifth or drop to seventh, whereas the Wolverines can only slip to ninth from eighth, where they started the day.

Now here’s where the fun began…

1:11 Michigan draws first blood, as the host scores in the fifth minute to strengthen its chances of sneaking into the Big Ten Tournament.

1:16 Michigan State strikes first against Northwestern, separating itself from Penn State in fifth place and creating an uphill battle for the Wildcats to avoid finishing in last.

1:20 — Two goals are scored at the same time.

The Wildcats respond four minutes after conceding to level the match at one, while Wisconsin jumps out in front of Ohio State. This gives Northwestern a glimmer of hope to climb out of last, and Wisconsin jumps ahead of Penn State, who is already losing to Michigan. The scoreline in Madison also means the Big Ten title can be decided in Bloomington, pending any changes.

1:30 Indiana continues the trend of the home team scoring first, as Ryan Wittenbrink curls a free-kick from 25 yards into the top corner, putting the Hoosiers on top of the Terrapins not only in the match but in the standings as well.

1:35 — It gets even better for Indiana. Wisconsin doubles its lead over Ohio State in the 35th minute, meaning the Buckeyes need to overturn a two-goal deficit to have a chance at a share of the title.

Halftime across the board looked like this: Indiana 1 - Maryland 0. Wisconsin 2 - Ohio State 0. Michigan State 1 - Northwestern 1. Michigan 1 - Penn State 0.

The live table looked like this with 45 minutes to play:

Indiana - 15 points*

Maryland - 15 points

Rutgers - 14 points**

Ohio State - 14 points

Michigan State - 11 points

Wisconsin - 10 points

Penn State - 9 points

Michigan - 7 points

Northwestern - 3 points

* Indiana is ahead of Maryland due to the head-to-head tiebreaker

** Rutgers is ahead of Ohio State due to the goal differential tiebreaker since the teams tied earlier in the season

2:14 The first goal of the second half belongs to Penn State’s Van Danielson to level the score with Michigan at one, moving the Nittany Lions ahead a spot and jeopardizing the Wolverines of moving down a place.

2:20 — Van Danielson scores again for the Nittany Lions, and Ohio State grabs one back against Wisconsin. The score in both those matches is now 2-1, and Michigan’s chances of remaining in front of Northwestern were slipping away.

2:23 — Michigan’s Nolan Miller records a brace to match Danielson. The match is now tied up at two and there’s more breathing room for the Wolverines in the standings.

2:28 Wisconsin restores its two-goal advantage in the 65th minute to help both Indiana and Maryland.

2:31 An instant response from the Buckeyes 62 seconds after the Wisconsin goal gives the Buckeyes some life as they still trail 3-2. That’s three goals in the first 21 minutes in the second half in Madison.

2:44 Andrew Privett gives Penn State the lead back in the 75th minute, pushing Michigan to the brink and elevating the Nittany Lions to fifth.

2:49 Northwestern knows a goal will bump them ahead of Michigan. In the 81st minute in East Lansing, the Wildcats get a penalty and Ethan Dudley converts it to save their season.

2:56 Wisconsin holds on to beat Ohio State 3-2. With the result, Indiana can earn a share of the Big Ten title by seeing out its match against Maryland, while all the Terps need is a draw to win the title outright.

2:59 — Final in East Lansing: Michigan State 1 - Northwestern 2. The Wildcats see out the final 10 minutes to sneak into the Big Ten Tournament, pending a Michigan comeback against Penn State. It also means that Indiana will host in the Big Ten Quarterfinals; the only question is whether they would be the one seed or four seed.

It appears that Ryan Wittenbrink’s goal could give Indiana its 18th Big Ten regular season crown. But, the scoreboard at Bill Armstrong Stadium reads three minutes remaining, and the clock hits 3 p.m.

3:00 — Maryland finds the equalizer in the 87th minute courtesy of Stefan Copetti’s header to win the Big Ten title for the Terps.

3:04 The match in Bloomington goes final, as Maryland celebrates while Indiana falls to the ground in disbelief. A 1-1 draw feels like a loss for the Hoosiers, who were oh so close to a share of the Big Ten title, something that seemed nearly impossible after Indiana was 1-1-3 following its first five Big Ten matches.

While Maryland is celebrating, Northwestern is suddenly the biggest Penn State fans, hoping that result in Ann Arbor would hold so the ‘Cats could celebrate their season continuing.

3:05 That match goes final, meaning Northwestern, who came into the day needing a win and a Michigan loss, had its prayers answered.

The final day was everything the league could have asked for and more, as goals in the final 10 minutes decided the final table at both the top and bottom. The final Big Ten standings look like this:

Maryland - 16 points

Rutgers* - 14 points

Ohio State - 14 points

Indiana - 13 points

Penn State - 12 points

Michigan State - 10 points

Wisconsin - 10 points

Northwestern - 5 points

Michigan - 4 points

The Big Ten Tournament bracket is here, with the quarterfinals taking place this Friday. Times are currently TBD at the time of writing. No. 4 Indiana will host No. 5 Penn State, a team IU already beat this season. That was also at home, and on a Friday. Spooky, right?

Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, Maryland will host Northwestern in the first round. Let’s not forget, the ‘Cats upset the Terps on penalties last season which allowed Roman Celentano to make national headlines. If Indiana survives and Northwestern pulls off another shock, the two would meet again at Bill Armstrong Stadium in the semifinals.

What should you take away from all of this: Sunday, dubbed as Decision Day, was awesome. But, Rutgers should not have been left out of the fun. Maybe think about adding another men’s soccer team, @ Big Ten?


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