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The Hoosier Men's Soccer team won a crucial road game in OT at Penn State to get an early lead in the Big Ten Title race. Harrison Petts notched his first goal of the season just after the Hoosiers had just received a red card to go a man down late.
Harrison Petts, your table is ready. I've been waiting for a key performance like this from Petts ever since he showed so much promise in his freshman year. Petts has had the ability to create havoc from the midfield with an uncanny ability to make heady plays while attacking at speed. Over the last couple of years, as he has become a hub of the Hoosier offense, it hasn't come to much, and this season has seen AJ Corrado creating more of the dangerous opportunities for Hoosier goals.
The #10/11 Hoosiers entered this road game against the Nittany Lions (ranked #20 and ARV - #29?) after dropping a disappointing match at home to #8/9 Notre Dame. It was disappointing as the Hoosiers were largely bottled up by the ND defense, and although they weren't outplayed by the Irish, it was also clear this IU team has a bit of work to do before they can really argue that they are a top 10-worthy club. Not that this isn't a good Hoosier team, it is, and the wins against SIU-Edwardsville, St. Louis, and now PSU demonstrate a top 16-worthiness, but Akron & Notre Dame are probably the better teams right now.
The Hoosiers were again outshot in this match, in a game of massive ebbs and flows, but had an early Nikita Kotlov goal called back on a dicey offsides call - the Hoosiers in fact were whistled for no less than 10 offsides violations. The Hoosier also had a 9-2 advantage on corner kicks, and ended up matching the Nittany Lions with 3 shots on frame. I think the refs maybe saw that they botched an early offsides call on Kyle Sparks (who did nothing with a great 1v1 chance against the keeper) and then were overly vigilant. They were also vigilant on a couple of fouls (possibly goal-saving fouls) by Hoosier defender Kerel Bradford, who got a yellow and then a red card in the 103rd minute, leaving the Hoosiers down to start the second overtime period. Both were on tackles just outside the 18-yard box, and might've saved goals. But Harrison Petts capitalized on a half-volley shot, set up by AJ Corrado (not sure why he didn't get the assist credit) and slotted his first goal of the season into the net for a walk-off winner. I can't emphasize how much Petts is needed to step up as the Hoosiers enter league play. Eriq Zavaleta is still generating quality chances, but his scoring clip (once leading the nation) has cooled off quite a bit. The Hoosiers have a competent defense (albeit one that's letting too many of the foes' shots get on frame, but Luis Soffner's having another good year so that's not been too much of a problem yet), so even they are able to generate 2 goals a game, they should be able to march through the back half of the schedule.
Coming up on the schedule, there's a good road game left at Louisville (#24/ARV #30), and touch matches coming up against Kentucky and Butler who always make it a point to play their best against the Cream and Crimson, but otherwise a lot of the key conference games (Wisconsin, Northwestern) are now at home. Here's hoping that this is the start of a nice unbeaten streak for the Hoosiers wherein Petts, as Jack Donaghy might say, provides that "third heat" alongside Zavaleta and Corrado in generating offense and notching actual goals and assists.