Let's give some love up front to the Indiana Women's Soccer team, who have had a pretty good year (in a very tough conference - 8 teams went to the 64-team NCAA tourney!). The Women's team finished the regular season 14-6-1 and were competitive throughout the season. Only ranked teams Michigan and Nebraska were able to beat them by more than one goal.
Today, they beat DePaul 1-0 at Bill Armstrong field, with freshman Veronica Ellis notching the game-winner in 76th minute. It was only her third goal on the year. The Hoosiers had the better looks throughout the match, but after the goal, DePaul charged back. However, IU's keeper, Shannon Flower, was up to the task with a capable save with just three minutes left to save the game. You can watch both highlights here. Flower only had to record two saves for the whole game. Now, the real challenge awaits, as IU has to travel to #1 UNC next. Of course, that was just a step to the title for the Indiana men's team last year, so let's hope the IU women are on a similar trajectory. Congratulations to the women's team on a great win!
The real surprise today was the redemption of the IU men's soccer season. I last wrote when the Hoosiers had just lost to Penn State (and I quote "this... this is terrible."). But little did I know that was only the second step of a 5-game losing streak that would secure a losing regular season for the Hoosiers. Indiana was 5-11-1 going into the regular season finale at Northwestern, which looked like it would a sweet win for Wildcats on their senior day. But then something funny happened. All the pieces suddenly fell into place for the Hoosiers and they trounced NU 3-0. It was the sort of complete performance that had been seen only in fits and starts throughout the year, in glimpses of amazing potential that were all the more frustrating when the defense would crumble late. The Hoosiers lost five overtime games, tied one other, and that's not even counting the 4-3 loss at Wisconsin in which IU gave up 3 unanswered goals in the last 17 minutes of the game. When the chips were down, IU couldn't get the stops they needed. Until now,
The Hoosiers won their first OT game of the year in the Big Ten Tourney, avenging a loss in Ann Arbor when AJ Corrado tied up the match on possibly the best goal of his career, netting the upper 90 from 23 yards out. Dylan Mares hit the game winner in the 6th minute of overtime, which was the only shot taken in OT. That game also marked the return of freshman striker dynamo Tommy Thompson, who had been out since being injured in the Wisconsin game. In the next match, the Hoosiers couldn't break through in the scoring column in two extra periods against Penn State, but dominated by outshooting the Nittany Lions 22-10 (placement was an issue, though, as IU only put one of those on-frame). The Hoosiers triumphantly knocked home all of their Penalty Kicks, advancing on a 5-3 count. In the championship game against Michigan State, the Spartans came out firing, but true freshman goalie Colin Webb had a whopping six saves to keep the match even. The Hoosiers responded in the second half, outshooting MSU by the incredible margin of 13-4. Jamie Vollmer broke through for his first career goal in the 66th minute, knocking down a MSU goal kick and weaving his way back before knocking the ball in from 15 feet. The Hoosiers held on, and Webb didn't have to make a save for the entire second half.
Although this is IU's 12th Big Ten Men's Soccer Tourney title, it is their first since 2006, and obviously coach Todd Yeagley's first. Needless to say, it keeps the Hoosiers' NCAA tournament appearance streak alive in a year that it was sure to be broken. The Hoosiers will still have to make the College Cup to avoid their first losing season ever, but let's not concentrate on the negative. I'm elated that Yeagley the younger saved his first BTT title for when it was really, really needed! Congrats to both soccer teams!