IU soccer completes B1G triple double with shootout win

Roman Celentano watched both hopefully and helplessly as the ball rolled across the goalmouth.

And when it went past the left post — outside the line — he spread his arms wide as he looked toward the IU bench, then began hopping on one leg as he revved his imaginary motorcycle — destination Cary, N.C., and the NCAA Tournament.

Celentano’s second save in the penalty kick shootout gave third-ranked and top-seeded Indiana the Big Ten Tournament title with a 3-2 shootout win Saturday night after playing Penn State to a 1-1 draw through regulation and two overtimes despite being a man down for the final 29:03.

The celebration wasn’t entirely off the cuff.

“Kind of did something like that last year when we won on penalties against Michigan, so I decided to run it back,” Celentano said. “But I thought a little bit about it (ahead of time), because I visualize winning and what I’d do after.”

The Hoosiers have done a lot of winning in recent years, not having lost a Big Ten Tournament game since Nov. 16, 2014, going 11-0-5 in that span.

This victory completed the triple-double for the Hoosiers, who have won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament crowns each of the past three years. It is a feat matched only by IU from 1996-99 and gives Indiana 11 doubles in program history. The rest of the conference has just seven combined doubles.

“Winning titles, I tell the team all the time, it’s special,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said. “This one is the one I’m excited about. It’s harder to do when the target gets bigger.”

It also is harder to do when you’re only playing with 10 men.

Holding a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Victor Bezerra’s first-half goal, with under 10 minutes to play in regulation, the trajectory of the game and maybe even the season changed in the blink of an eye. Daniel Munie went to make a pass back under pressure from Penn State’s Daniel Bloyou and misplayed the ball into space, setting up Bloyou with a 1-v-1 against Celentano before teammate Joey Maher dragged the Nittany Lion forward down just outside the box.

Maher was given a red card with 9:03 left on the clock, leaving Indiana a man down and the freshman having to sit out the Hoosiers’ next game, which will come in the NCAA Tournament.

“It was a bit of a weird play,” Celentano said. “I think Munie was maybe trying to hit it back to me so I could send it up the field but it was maybe a mishit or maybe touched by Bloyou on the way there, then he was in on goal.”

As for Maher’s decision, it was a gamble to preserve the lead with so little time left in regulation.

“We talk about scenarios — when to take a tactical foul, when not,” Yeagley said. “It’s hard to argue what he did. It could’ve been the difference in us winning in regulation. The hard part is now Joey won’t be available the next game, but (the players) are in the present. The last thing Joey is thinking at the moment is, ‘I’m going to miss that tournament game.’ He just wanted to win this title.”

The initial free kick after the foul was deflected out by the Hoosiers for a corner kick, which was also initially denied, but a second ball went in and eventually Liam Butts poked it past Celentano for the equalizer at the 8:44 mark.

“To have the red card and the score soon thereafter, I thought that was the most difficult challenge of the season, no doubt,” Yeagley said. “All the momentum was Penn State’s. They started to get a little more of the game prior to the red card, then to get the red card and then the score after, the momentum was definitely in their favor. They’re flying and we don’t have a lot of experienced depth right now at the back with the injuries.”

Yeagley shifted Brett Bebej into Maher’s center back spot and inserted freshman Lawson Redmon, just back from injury at left back as the Hoosiers just tried to survive those final minutes of regulation until they could regroup.

“I’m not gonna lie, the minutes were long,” Celentano said. “We just, as a team, tried to take it minute by minute, manage the moments and stick it out as long as we could.”

Once the game got to overtime, Indiana seemed to get a second win. A series of corner kicks helped kill off nearly half of the first overtime, then another offensive foray stalled a couple more minutes off the clock to start the second overtime. The Hoosiers wanted to win if they could, but getting to a PK shootout was not a bad option under the circumstances.

“Would I say we were playing for penalties? No,” Yeagley said. “But I wasn’t disappointed if we got there down a man. I told the guys, ‘If we get to penalties, we’re in a great spot, because, one, the confidence we have in our shooters, and, two, Roman. Don’t bunker in, look forward if it’s available, but don’t extend yourselves.'”

Indiana did just that to near perfection, giving it a chance to repeat last season’s PK shootout win over Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament final. Like their coach, the Hoosiers were more than happy to settle the outcome from the spot.

“I’m confident in my shooters, I’m confident in myself and just psychologically Penn State being a man up and not being able to put us away kind of wears on you,” Celentano said, “so I felt we had the upper hand going into penalties.”

The Nittany Lions went first, and the shot sailed high to only boost that confidence.

Thomas Warr made good on his shot for a 1-0 lead, then after a Celentano save, Joe Schmidt found the net for a 2-0 lead.

Bezerra, the Offensive Player of the Tournament, matched a make by Penn State’s Peter Mangione for a 3-1 lead before a Nittany Lion make and an Indiana miss cut the margin to 3-2 going to the fifth and potentially final round.

As PSU’s Callum Pritchatt approached to set the ball up, Celentano studied his foe in search of a tell.

“When I saw the guy walking up, I couldn’t really read him, then I felt he would go to my left, so I got my mind set, he hit it and I touched it onto the post,” the sophomore goalkeeper and Defensive Player of the Tournament said.

Initially, Celentano thought the ball had gone in off the post. Then he turned his head and saw the ball rolling slowly away from him and waited until his sixth save of the match was official to begin his celebration.

As for the specifics regarding that destination, those will come with the NCAA Selection Show on Monday at noon.