Herbert Endeley received the ball on the far wing, split a pair of defenders, dribbled the ball a few more times on his right foot, and blasted it into the roof of the net to give No. 3 Indiana a 1-0 lead. The date was May 14th, 2021, the College Cup semifinals. The location was Cary, North Carolina. The opponent was No. 2 Pittsburgh.
The individual brilliance and a dominant defensive display led Indiana to beat the Panthers in the spring COVID 2020-21 season.
The date is now December 3rd, 2022. No. 13 Indiana returns to the College Cup after a 2-0 win over No. 12 UNC-Greensboro Saturday night. Two keys to the victory: a splendid solo effort from Maouloune Goumballe and stout defense from an experienced backline. Sound familiar?
Indiana dominated the first quarter-hour of the match, and was rewarded with a top-class finish from Goumballe to give them the lead just shy of sixteen minutes. Goumballe received a throw-in from Brett Bebej, teed himself up, and blasted a shot off the bounce into the top corner.
"I didn't really see it until it went into the back of the net," Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said post match of Goumballe's post-goal thoughts.
Goumballe made sure to keep his head down through the entire motion of striking the ball, but when he looked up, he realized he had scored his first goal of the season. The excellent strike mirrored that of Endeley's 18 months prior.
On the other side of the pitch, goalkeeper JT Harms stood amazed by the strike. Harms and Goumballe are current roommates and first connected through the Columbus Crew Academy.
“I was in disbelief,” Harms said. “That’s a special moment that wins you big games.”
Indiana dominated the first half, but if nothing else, we learned that UNC-Greensboro could withstand pressure to defeat an opponent. The Spartans beat No. 5 Stanford 3-1 in penalty kicks on the road last week in the Round of 16 — despite getting outshot 12-3.
History would not repeat itself, although the Spartans threatened to find the equalizer at the hour mark. A through ball played into the teeth of the Indiana back line generated a one-on-one chance for Ismail El Harchi, but Harms abandoned his line to block the shot.
Just three minutes later, Indiana secured the elusive second goal that was missing in some matches this season. The score resulted from the combined counterattack of Patrick McDonald, and Sam Sarver. McDonald won the ball in the center of the pitch, playing a ball that released Sarver, who went one-on-one, and unlike El Harchi, slotted the ball in the back of the net.
Sarver's quickness was lethal throughout the match, and he was rewarded for it. Still, it was McDonald's homecoming that made Indiana's first NCAA Tournament away game feel more like a home atmosphere.
Greensboro is McDonald's hometown, meaning plenty of his supporters were in attendance.
"(The atmosphere) was awesome," McDonald said. "I had about 10-15 family members and 80 friends just from around the area, so it was really special to be able to win and for us to pull off a great performance like that."
At the back, Indiana was stout, even though they were outshot 9-2 in the second half. The experienced back-four, who were all on the team in the most recent College Cup run two seasons ago, locked it down. And, Harms' four saves safely ensured the team’s third consecutive victory for just the second time this season.
Not only that, but Indiana is the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal.
In a season filled with statistical oddities of this historical college soccer dynasty, a couple more were added after the road win. In the 50th year as a program, Indiana just secured its 100th career NCAA Tournament win — and masterful 22nd College Cup appearance.
"I don't talk a lot about historic numbers with the group in the moment but man, that's a special number," Yeagley said after the match.
Indiana marches onto the College Cup and will travel again to Cary, NC. The opponent: Pitt. Yup, that's right, 568 days after upending the second seed in the semifinals, the two tussle again. For Indiana, it hopes history will repeat itself.