SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — As Maryland men’s soccer sat back in its defensive third with a 2-0 lead, Indiana’s band began playing Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” The Hoosiers were five minutes away from elimination, needing two quick scores against a team that had yet to concede in the tournament.

That prayer never came close to being answered.

When defensive midfielder Eli Crognale booted the ball downfield as the clock hit zero, he threw his arms into the air. After recording both assists, Crognale’s clearance became the last defensive effort in a College Cup semifinal shutout victory.

A third straight upset required Maryland’s players to impact the game on both ends of the field. They did so against indiana, and now only undseeded Akron stands between the Terps and a national championship.

“We don’t have defensive players or attacking players. We just have players,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “They knew in the course of a game, you have an opportunity to impact a game on both sides of the ball.”

[Read more: Maryland men’s soccer beats Indiana 2-0 to advance to NCAA title game]

Midway through the season, Crognale joined senior Andrew Samuels to form a two-center defensive midfield formation. Cirovski never liked using one, but he thought this year’s team could benefit from the extra support.

That decision is one of many reasons the Terps’ win over Indiana became their first four-game winning streak of the season. Crognale helped extend Maryland’s shutout streak to all 360 minutes of the tournament, and a pair of his passes on set pieces led to both goals.

In the 37th minute, his corner kick to the near post bounced and fell to midfielder Matt Di Rosa’s feet. His first-career goal gave Maryland the lead, while Indiana watched the ball enter its own net for the first time since Terps defender Ben Di Rosa scored Nov. 9 in the Big Ten semifinals.

“When they scored, no one panicked really,” Indiana defender Andrew Gutman said. “We were still pretty calm, still confident we were going to create chances. And we did.”

[Read more: Chase Gasper’s college journey comes full circle with Maryland soccer’s College Cup run]

The Hoosiers compiled 15 shots, but only three went on target. Indiana coach Todd Yeagley said the hardest thing to do in the sport is score, and with Maryland blocking shots and instantly clearing away threatening passes out of the box, his team couldn’t find that final touch.

Maryland’s defense, however, used more than goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, the backline and the defensive midfielders. Junior forward Paul Bin played a key role by marking Gutman, the Hoosiers defender who had had three goals against the Terps in the team’s first two matchups this season.

Failing to handle the attacking-minded Gutman cost Maryland in the first two meetings. But whenever Gutman touched the ball on his half of the field, Bin pressured him and didn’t let the MAC Hermann Trophy finalist advance upfield. Gutman finished with one shot.

“They did a nice job defensively taking away some things,” Yeagley said. “But as we grew into the game, I felt so confident at halftime. I really felt we would find that goal.”

Instead, Maryland found the second goal of the game, and it came from a defender. Crognale sent a free kick into the box in the 79th minute, where it was headed backward. Donovan Pines’ run coincided with the deflection, and he tapped the ball into the net.

Pines is known for winning set pieces in his own box, something he again successfully on Friday night. On this play, though, he escaped Gutman and scored just his third-career goal.

“I was just so ecstatic and I just couldn’t believe I did it,” Pines said. “I was just so happy I could contribute to the team on the offensive side.”

On paper, the Hoosiers were the clear-cut favorite to hoist the national championship trophy. They entered the College Cup without a loss in over two months, riding the momentum of their Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

But another smothering full-team performance prevented Indiana from reaching a second consecutive College Cup final. Now, the Terps are one more positive result away from the program’s first national championship since 2008.

“To beat a great program like Indiana on this stage, it was going to take a Herculean effort on both sides of the ball,” Cirovski said. “This was our most complete performance of the year.”