BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Staring at a 2-0 deficit just 17 seconds into the second half of play, the Indiana men's soccer team responded with three unanswered goals for a 3-2 victory over Northwestern (8-6-2, 2-2-1 Big Ten) Sunday night on Jerry Yeagley Field at Armstrong Stadium. With the win the Hoosiers clinch the Big Ten regular season title and the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Tournament Nov. 11-14 in State College, Pa.
"Tonight was very special," said head coach Todd Yeagley. "To be down 2-0 early in the second half, this group never gave up and we were playing some of our best soccer that last 30 minutes and really had Northwestern on its heels. We played with passion and made plays, which is what we talked about at the half."
Junior Will Bruin got the Hoosiers (9-5-2, 4-0-1 Big Ten) on the scoreboard at 52:29 with his 14th goal of the season with the assist going to senior Andy Adlard. Adlard had the ball deep on the right side and put it into the box where it touched off a Northwestern defender. It immediately landed at Bruin, who juggled it twice before knocking it straight down the middle to cut the deficit to one.
Not even 10 minutes later it was again Bruin with the equalizing score to put the Hoosiers right back into contention. This time it was Alec Purdie serving up the ball to the streaking forward, who sent in a low ball to the lower left to put Northwestern on its heels.
Bruin's 15 goals on the season are the most by a Hoosier since Pat Noonan scored 16 in 2001.
It was sophomore Joe Tolen who became the hero of the game with his first career game-winning score coming at 79:48. Bruin knocked the ball down at about 20 yards out and played it on to 12 who took a screaming shot from distance that Northwestern goalkeeper Jonathan Harris had no chance of stopping. Tolen, who earned his first career start today, has been a spark for Indiana offensively with two goals and two assists over the last three matches.
The win marked the first time this season that Indiana has come back to win when the opposing team scores first. Northwestern struck first at 40:57. Matt Eliason sent in a long throw from in front of the Northwestern bench that was flicked on by Cody Stanley to Connor Holloway. Holloway hit a low roller from a few yards out for his first goal of the season.
It took just 17 seconds in the second half for Northwestern to double its lead when Oliver Kupe ran under a long ball from Jack Hillgard. IU goalkeeper Nate Mitchell was out off his line and Kupe got behind him for the score.
That woke the Hoosiers up as they began a relentless attack on the Northwestern goal which led up to the two Bruin scores in a nine-minute span. The Hoosiers had close calls with shots from Bruin and freshman Jacob Bushue. After Bruin's second goal Indiana did not back down with sophomore defender Caleb Konstanski sending one off the cross bar in the 63rd minute and having another shot saved by Harris on the 65th minute.
The Hoosiers finished the match with 16 shots, eight of which were on frame. Three of Bruin's four shots were on target, along with two of three attempts from Adlard.
Getting his second start in goal, Mitchell improved to 2-0 on the year and came away with several key saves for the Hoosiers to finish with a career-best six stops.
For Indiana it is the 14th regular season title in program history and the first since 2007. Seniors Daniel Kelly, Rich Balchan and Adlard, who were honored prior to the game along with Cameron Jordan, were also part of that 2007 championship team as freshmen.
The Hoosiers close out the regular season next Sunday at Ohio State at 1 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network on a tape-delay basis at 7 p.m. ET.