IU soccer wins first BTT title since ’13 #iums

WESTFIELD — American’s military veterans were honored prior to Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament final at Grand Park.

Then the Indiana soccer team turned to its veteran players to produce a 3-0 victory over Michigan for the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten Tournament title since 2013.

Seniors Cory Thomas and Jeremiah Gutjahr each scored a goal, and classmate Austin Panchot added an assist as second-ranked and top-seeded IU completed the conference double, adding to its unblemished regular-season crown. It is the first time the Hoosiers have won both in the same season since 2006.

“With this senior class, it’s just so awesome to be out here with the guys every day practicing,” said Thomas, named the tournament’s most outstanding offensive player. “Putting the jersey on is special.”

A year after coming up a tie short of the Big Ten regular-season title, a PK shootout short of the tournament title and an overtime loss short of a national title, Indiana (17-2-1) has two trophies down and one to go.

“I’m really proud of the 2-for-2, and they know how hard it is to get back to that championship game,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said. “This is a confident group and one really driven. Wherever that takes us, I’ll be proud of whatever happens. We’re going to enjoy this one. Sometimes you forget about enjoying the moment of what you accomplished.”

The Hoosiers certainly enjoyed the return of sophomore Griffin Dorsey, who played in his first game back from a stint with the U-20 national team during the group stage of the CONCACAF championships. Teammate Justin Rennicks remains with the U.S team in Florida, but Dorsey made an immediate impact.

In the seventh minute, Dorsey drew the defense and found Trevor Swartz at the top of the box in the middle of the field for a shot that was saved by diving Michigan goalkeeper Henry Mashburn. The rebound came to Dorsey, but Mashburn deflected his volley as well. However, the ball fell to Thomas at the back post for the goal and a 1-0 lead over the Wolverines (12-5-2).

Just moments later, Dorsey put the pressure on the Michigan defense and went down on the right side of the box, but the referee swallowed the whistle instead of awarding a penalty kick.

As the half wore on, Michigan began to assert itself with the wind at its back, leaving IU to dodge several bullets, including a pair of dangerous header opportunities by Mohammed Zakyi, before getting to halftime with the 1-0 lead intact.

“The last 10, yes, we even had a sub I wasn’t planning on using, just trying to get him in the midfield to kill the half,” Yeagley said. “We weren’t under siege, but they had a couple quality chances, and we lost our way a bit. We wanted to mange those minutes and reset at halftime.”

That the Hoosiers did, coming out of the break with six corner kicks in the first 10 minutes.

None of those found the mark, but Indiana kept the pressure on the Wolverines until they finally cracked.

That moment came in the 73rd minute as Dorsey pushed into the right side of the box and chipped a ball to the middle where Gutjahr’s diving header eluded Mashburn for a 2-0 lead and his first goal of the season.

Indiana followed up with the clincher two minutes later when Panchot won back a ball he’d lost on the right side of the box, then centered one from the end line that Spencer Glass finished at the near post for a three-goal advantage.

From there all IU had to do was complete the shutout. And while senior Andrew Gutman was less of a factor on offense than usual, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year helped shut down Big Ten Offensive Player Jack Hallahan.

“Hallahan is an absolute handful going forward, so we knew if Andrew left the spaces earlier that transition could potentially be dangerous for us,” Yeagley said. “Andrew loves to get forward, but he loves winning games more than getting forward. I thought he picked and chose his moments getting forward really well today.”

Gutman won the tournament’s most outstanding defensive player award for his efforts, and Indiana took home the 13th Big Ten Tournament title in program history. Frankie Moore also made the all-tournament team.

Now the Hoosiers will look ahead to Monday’s NCAA Selection Show, where the No. 1 or No. 2 overall seed is likely as they learn their path to the College Cup.

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