Hoosiers settle for almost perfect in OT loss #iums

CHESTER, Pa. — Perhaps there’s no such thing as perfect in the game of soccer, but Indiana University came awfully close to a perfect season.

The second-seeded Hoosiers were forced to settle for an imperfect ending in Sunday’s College Cup national championship game at Talen Energy Stadium, when Sam Werner’s goal in the 103rd minute lifted Stanford to its third straight national title, 1-0, in double overtime.

It was the first loss of the season and just the seventh goal allowed by Indiana, which settled for the seventh national runner-up finish in school history and first loss in a title game since 2001 against North Carolina in Columbus, Ohio.

Worst of all, it was the Hoosiers’ own mistake that turned out to be the difference in a game that appeared destined for penalty kicks.

A Stanford cross into the box was picked off by freshman midfielder Griffin Dorsey, but instead of kicking the ball to safety, he attempted to dribble past Werner to launch a counterattack.

Werner stuck a foot out and popped the ball into the air, then recovered his balance before striking a shot just under the crossbar and over the head of IU goalkeeper Trey Muse.

“That’s a tough one,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said. “We said heading into the overtimes, make sure we’re playing safe in moments of risk-safety decisions. Obviously Griff thought he had a little window there to make a play and yet their repress is great. They made a play, and the kid finished it really well.

“That won’t be our focus certainly, but it’s one where we learn from all different experiences throughout the year and moving on to next year.”

The focus for both teams on Sunday was certainly defense, with Stanford’s Tomas Hilliard-Arce and Indiana’s Grant Lillard each a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as center backs for the top two defensive teams in the country.

“I thought it was a cracking game,” Cardinal coach Jeremy Gunn said. “The two teams, when you watched the game, it was pretty obvious why both teams were there. Great attacking players who can score goals but wonderful work ethics from both teams where they worked hard defensively and made life difficult for their opponents.”

Stanford (19-2-2) finished with a 13-5 edge in shots and 6-1 in shots on goal, while the Cardinal had four corner kicks to Indiana’s three. It was the fewest shots of the season for Indiana (18-1-6), which was coming off its previous low of seven in the semifinal win over UNC.

“They did a good job with their press, took us out of maybe what we like to do (which) is possess a little more and play through the lines,” said IU midfielder Cory Thomas, who made the all-tournament team along with Lillard, Muse and Andrew Gutman. “We had to adapt a little bit to play like they were, play a little longer. I think we’re good at adapting but today weren’t good enough.”

The Hoosiers’ best chance to break the scoreless deadlock came in the 84th minute following a corner kick clearance by Stanford. Indiana reset, and Frankie Moore sent a low driving cross in that was knocked away by a Cardinal defender a split-second ahead of the arrival of a sliding Gutman.

Other than that, the Hoosiers mostly found their attempts to connect on passes in the final third to be futile.

The failure to make the necessary adjustment was a frustrating one.

“One strength of our team is we can adapt very well to different teams and different styles and what we need to do, because I think we have pretty versatile players,” Yeagley said. “I think we did that in stretches, but just not consistently enough, and again a lot of that would go to Stanford.

“In transition, we weren’t clinical enough in our decision, in our pass to get a few more chances around the box. If we were sharper there, we get four or five really good looks and end the game with a different result.”

Muse certainly gave Indiana that opportunity throughout, coming up with five total saves, including two huge ones.

The first came in the 11th minute as Bryce Marion made a run down the middle and unleashed a shot that Muse speared with one hand.

The other, an even more spectacular effort, saw Muse stonewall Corey Baird after he took a slip pass behind the defense and had a one-on-one chance denied by the freshman.

“He made the one or two saves that playing against a really high-level team you’re going to most likely get,” Yeagley said. “As good as our defense has been, Stanford has some playmakers and they’re good. So he made the one or two saves that we needed and was really steady otherwise, gave our group a lot of composure and consistency.

“I can’t say enough about how good he was this year and today no different.”

In the end, however, there was little Muse could do to keep Indiana’s season from an imperfect ending.

One comment

  1. What a great season! A really tough break on the one goal. But just a terrific season! GO IU Men’s Soccer!

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