Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
It took eight years, but Indiana University finally added their eighth NCAA men’s soccer championship, and they did it in a year when few outside of Bloomington could have seen it coming.
The Hoosiers ended the regular season with just one win in five matches, losing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, but rather than doom them, that late-season slide helped them regroup and come together in time to put together a championship run.
That run culminated with an impressive team performance on Sunday, as they outplayed a game but tired-looking Georgetown side. Indiana rode a Nikita Kotlov second-half goal and some stellar work from senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner to post a 1-0 victory over the Hoyas in the College Cup Final in Hoover, Alabama.
With the match scoreless mid-way through the second half, Eriq Zavaleta headed a floating cross to a wide-open Nikita Kotlov, who converted into an open net for yet another tournament goal to give the Hoosiers the lead for good.
Georgetown showed the affects of Friday’s dramatic penalty shootout victory over Maryland, a match that saw the Hoyas play a tough 90 minutes of regulation, then overtime, before winning in penalties. Fatigue was evident in the Hoyas in the first half, with Indiana’s deeper bench giving them the edge in energy and defensive pressure.
Indiana’s midfield outworked the Hoyas, with Kotlov, A.J. Corrado and Harrison Petts buzzing around, and freshman substitute Femi Hollinger-Janzen all causing problems for the Hoyas.
Georgetown freshman forward Brandon Allen struggled for service, and showed tired legs that kept him from having much of an impact. At least until late in the match, when he headed a shot off the crossbar with a minute left in the game. That chance was the best Georgetown had all day.
Soffner recorded two saves for his third consecutive tournament shutout, earning defensive MVP honors. Georgetown junior Steve Neumann was named the tournament’s offensive MVP.
The title was the first won by Todd Yeagley as head coach in just his third season in charge of the Indiana program his legendary coach father Jerry helped turn into a national powerhouse.
What did you think of the match? Impressed with Indiana’s run? Think fatigue cost Georgetown in the end? Which players would you like to see in MLS eventually?
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