SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It’s now been five straight seasons that Indiana has lost in the NCAA Tournament on either penalties or golden goal.
Last season the Hoosiers fell in penalty kicks to Syracuse in the National Championship. This time around Indiana dropped a nail biter to Notre Dame, 1-1 (5-4 PKs).
It was heartbreak for the Hoosiers as another incredible season came to end.
“When you get to these elite games it hurts more because you’re invested in it,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said.
When the two in-state rivals met during the season opener, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Now, with the College Cup on the line, emotions ran higher for both squads as much more was on the line.
Notre Dame came out the gates hot pushing for a goal. That goal would come in the 17th minute when the Irish were awarded a free kick just outside of the box.
Senior forward Daniel Russo stepped up to take the kick and struck a beauty that landed in the back of the net.
After the Irish goal, Indiana picked up play, creating many good opportunities on goal. The Hoosiers used their speed on the wings to test the Notre Dame defense.
In the final 10-15 minutes of the first half, Indiana had multiple chances from set pieces but couldn’t convert. The backline of the Irish stood tall, blocking Hoosier attempts left and right.
At halftime the Hoosiers trailed one to nil but as Hoosier fans have seen throughout the season, this Indiana team doesn’t give up easily.
Indiana came out in the second half with fuel pushing for the equalizer. That equalizer would come in the 63rd minute off the foot of Patrick McDonald.
The initial cross from Indiana got headed out of the box which found the feet of McDonald who took a touch and hit a screamer on a half volley.
McDonald’s goal was reminiscent of his game-tying goal against Syracuse last season.
As postseason soccer is, there was plenty of late match drama.
In the final two minutes of play, Indiana nearly found the game-winning goal. Junior Sam Sarver hit a bullet that ricocheted off the crossbar that eventually got cleared by the Irish backline.
The Hoosiers were inches away from going back to the College Cup. Instead, both teams had to settle for extra time.
In the two 10-minute overtime periods, Indiana seemed to have the upper foot. The Hoosiers midfield did very well in building up play for the offense.
Chance after chance would come for the Hoosiers but Notre Dame stood strong and kept the score at one apiece. The match would stay even in overtime and the two teams went to penalty kicks.
The first penalty of the evening would be taken by none other than Joey Maher. In Mayer’s previous two attempts from the spot this season, he was a perfect 2-for-2.
In the cold and wet conditions up north, Maher stood over the ball to take the kick. His attempt was saved by Bryan Dowd.
Dowd, the ACC goalkeeper of the year, made a crucial save that gave the Irish hope. He has only allowed 13 goals all season.
The rest of the penalty kicks were even as both squads made their attempts. The match came down to the foot of Russo.
Russo, who scored a screamer earlier in the match, had the opportunity to send Notre Dame through to the College Cup. He would do just that as he slotted home the winner, giving the Irish the win.
The sport of soccer is ruthless and at times can be a flip of a coin. Saturday night’s match showed two physical teams going at it for 110 minutes.
“Penalties are a difficult part of the finish of our sport,” Yeagley said. “I felt like the chances created and the team that maybe had the best of it obviously wasn’t the team that won the penalty shootout. That’s the way you have to decide the game.”
Indiana players were heartbroken at midfield as Notre Dame students ran past them. Indiana outshot the Irish 25-11 and had nine more corners.
Indiana’s quest for the ninth star continues on and an incredible turnaround season for the Hoosiers comes to a close.