IU soccer advances to Big Ten Tournament final

WESTFIELD — Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It doesn’t hurt if there’s an Andrew Gutman, a Trey Muse and a Cory Thomas, too.

The second-ranked and top-seeded Indiana men’s soccer team needed all of the above in Friday’s snow-tinged Big Ten Tournament semifinals at Grand Park, eliminating Maryland, 4-3 on penalty kicks, after the two teams played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime. The Hoosiers will take on third-seeded Michigan for the tournament title Sunday at noon.

“It just speaks of the mentality we have,” Gutman said. “We gave it our all for 110 minutes, and we still had a lot left in the tank. A lot of guys stepped up. I was telling them, ‘If it was easy, everyone could do it,’ so it just shows the heart and grit we have on this team.”

Gutman provided a stroke of individual brilliance and determination for the only IU goal of the match in the 69th minute, settling a pass just across midfield and bursting between two defenders, past a third and never slowed in slaloming past two more defenders into the left side of the box before cutting back to elude another Terrapin and unleashing a right-footed shot into the lower right corner past Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and a covering defender.

That meant Gutman essentially beat eight of the 11 Terps on the field to put Indiana (16-2-1) up 1-0 with his 10th goal from the left back position.

However, Maryland (8-6-4) equalized just over 10 minutes later when it caught the Hoosiers outnumbered on a counterattack with Ben Di Rosa beating Muse to finish a 3-on-1 opportunity.

The Terps finished regulation strong and continued to threaten in the first 10-minute overtime, including a sliding save off the line by Thomas on a header, but IU took over in the second overtime.

In the 105th minute, Cory Thomas had a shot blocked. Gutman followed with a shot of his own that was also blocked before chipping a ball across the six that was flicked off the far post and into the hands of St. Clair.

That sent Indiana to penalty kicks, the sixth straight year the Hoosiers have had a Big Ten Tournament game decided in such a fashion. They won in 2013 and ’14, but had been eliminated the past three years, including last year’s championship game loss to Wisconsin.

A save by St. Clair allowed Maryland to jump in front, 2-1, but Muse then rose to the occasion, much as he did in a shootout win over Michigan State in the NCAA quarterfinals a season ago.

“I was a little nervous at first, but like a good nervous really,” Muse said.

A diving save to his right allowed Austin Panchot to knot things at 2-all, then a dive to the left gave Jeremiah Gutjahr the opportunity to put Indiana on top, 3-2.

Maryland converted its next chance, just beating Muse inside the post, but all Indiana needed was a make from Cory Thomas.

It got it, as Thomas hit his shot off St. Clair’s fingertips and into the lower right corner.