A high-pitched air horn sounded throughout the field. Not only did it signal Indiana's 2-1 postseason survival over Maryland after 90 minutes of play — but the conclusion of verbal torment directed at Hoosier goalkeeper JT Harms.
Around the eighth minute during Wednesday night's Big Ten Tournament semifinal, Maryland's Stefan Copetti fired the match's first shot. Yes, that Copetti. The same player who, only 10 days prior, scored the 87th-minute equalizer against Indiana in the regular-season finale. And by doing so, secured Maryland's sole claim to the conference regular-season trophy.
Copetti's shot missed, banking off the outer part of the post and landing out of bounds. The scoreboard still read 0-0, and Indiana players breathed sighs of relief. Well, perhaps, except Harms.
Maryland's student section standing behind the goal, possibly outraged at their missed chance to obtain instant gratification so early into the match, opted for a different tone of voice. The match began with tame chants: "Let's goooooo, Maryland!" or "Va-mos, Maryland!" But as Harms released that goal kick following Copetti's miss, Maryland students synchronously chanted, "You suck, JT!"
For the remainder of the match, students yelled that phrase on almost, if not all, of Harms' nine goal kicks. Maryland had benches for students behind both goals.
"Maryland's a tough place to win," Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said postmatch. "Their home record is what it is for a reason. They have very good teams and their student section is really engaged, to say the least. They know everything about our guys and more."
Though, there's one caveat. Yeagley said his players enjoy playing in that type of rowdy environment. And well, the results back that up.
At the break, Indiana led 2-0. Samuel Sarver scored first, tapping in a low cross at the back post for his first goal since Sept. 9, exactly two months ago. That was when the Hoosiers blanked No. 9 Akron 2-0. And Wednesday, Sarver struck against another top-10 opponent — handling an imaginary bow and arrow in celebration.
"We talked about that today as a staff, how great it would be to get Sam a goal, because he's been playing well," Yeagley said. "We did some video with that earlier today about finishing that final run. And there it was. He's paying attention to details."
Five minutes later, Joey Maher added to the scoreline resulting from a chaotic sequence. Following a short corner kick, Ryan Wittenbrink chipped the ball into the box, yet it was deflected. Freshman Jack Wagoner directed the ball back into the cluster of players, and Maher slotted the ball into net for his second goal this season.
That insurance was necessary. Ten days earlier, Indiana had entered halftime with a 1-0 lead over Maryland, and lost it in the final five minutes of the match. Maher providing that cushioning was crucial. And Maryland's quick response 15 minutes after the break proved that. Colin Griffith took control of the ball outside the box and beautifully tucked it inside the left post.
"The 2-0 lead is an interesting one, because momentum can quickly shift," Yeagley said. "They got their goal and at a pretty opportune time for them with plenty of clock."
Smoke from the celebration lingered above Indiana's side of the field. So much, that one might question if there would be any left for Maryland’s next goal. Though, that didn't happen. Chris Rindov's point-blank header hit the crossbar, shot down at the goal line, but did not cross. Yeagley made clear that the post was wide enough when Indiana needed it.
Indiana's victory advanced the program to the Big Ten Tournament championship match for the sixth straight season. The Hoosiers took advantage of their top-10 foe to climb in RPI rankings, and now according to RPI Update: Men’s Soccer, are in the running for a top-16 bye in the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana achieved revenge for the last-minute draw almost two weeks ago. And perhaps, JT Harms earned his individual redemption on the Maryland student section. The one-goal one-save ratio wasn't an otherwordly stat line — Indiana's backline blocking a few shots came in handy, and the post occasionally helped.
But at the match's conclusion, Harms roared at the student section, smiled at his teammates, and backpedaled away from net while briefly maintaining eye contact toward the benches.
V̶a̶m̶o̶s̶ Adios, Maryland.