After a gut wrenching loss to Northwestern a few days ago, Indiana found themselves in a big hole heading into Sunday. Before the Rutgers match, Indiana sat in fourth place in the Big Ten standings behind Northwestern, Penn State and Michigan State. The Hoosiers had to have the pieces fall their way in order to finish first place in the Big Ten and that just happened for Indiana.
On a chaotic day of soccer in the Big Ten, Indiana needed a Northwestern and a Penn State loss. The Wildcats lost 3-0 to the Michigan Wolverines and the Nittany Lions drew 1-1 to the Wisconsin Badgers.
In Sunday's crucial match, Indiana dominated the Scarlet Knights from start to finish winning 4-1. The Hoosiers opened up the scoring just five minutes into the match courtesy of Hugo Bacharach. That was Bacharach’s first goal as a Hoosier and it set the tone for the remaining 85 minutes of play.
“I guess I was in the right place at the right time and when I saw the ball going in,” Bacharach said. “I was the happiest guy in the world.”
On the whole, this match seemed like one of the Hoosiers best performances of the year and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This was Indiana’s first game with more than two goals in a game and to add to the fun, the Hoosiers had four different goal scorers.
When asked about winning the game and the regular-season title, Todd Yeagley was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We were definitely capable of having a moment like this today. So that was really fun for winning the title at home and just really fun with families. I think everyone will enjoy this title.”
Just 17 minutes after the opening goal, Collins Oduro netted his second goal of the year putting the Hoosiers up 2-0. The last time Oduro scored was in the season opener versus Notre Dame. The freshman from Ghana was in the right place at the right time as the Hoosiers had everything going their way.
In the 45th minute just seconds before halftime, the Syracuse transfer Curt Calov hit a laser into the back of the net to cut the lead in half. It wasn’t the ending to the half the Hoosiers wanted but they still controlled their destiny.
Knowing what was at stake and hearing about the other scores from around the Big Ten, Indiana came out with some fire power unleashing shot after shot. Wet conditions and physical play shaped up that second half of play with a couple yellow cards given out. It almost felt like a NCAA tournament match.
“I didn’t think the calls were necessarily going our way today but it was a lot of the conditions in the match and the implications. It felt like a tournament game was going on and both teams were playing for a lot,” Yeagley stated.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute when the Hoosiers got some insurance from Patrick McDonald who fired one with his dominant left foot past the Rutgers keeper to put them up 3-1.
Indiana put on the finishing touches in the 89th minute as junior Sam Sarver went on a break away and perfectly placed it in the back of the net to round out the day.
After a 2-2 draw versus Rutgers last season, the Hoosiers bashed the Scarlet Knights 4-1 with a Big Ten regular-season title on the line.
Just about a month ago, Indiana was struggling to find the back of the net and it hurt them early on in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers' ability to finish their chances in October has created a huge spark for the team. When all hope seemed lost, Indiana was able to dig deep into its bag and finish the job.
“This conference right now it’s hard to predict anything. I felt we could be in the mix and I felt like we can take care of business,” Yeagley said.
Four Big Ten wins in October proved to be the difference for this Hoosiers team. An incredible turnaround for a highly talented team.
Indiana will play host to the Wisconsin Badgers this upcoming Friday, November 3. The Hoosiers faced the Badgers back in September playing them to a scoreless draw. With NCAA tournament hopes on the line, Indiana will need to get a couple wins in Big Ten tournament play to firmly secure their place in the tournament.
For right now, the Hoosiers are Big Ten regular season champs with aspirations of winning their 16th Big Ten tournament of all time.