Just over two minutes into the second overtime period, Indiana men’s soccer forward Joshua Penn took a shot on goal that tipped off defender Matt Di Rosa’s hand inside the box.
The officials awarded a penalty kick to the top-seeded Hoosiers, and defender Jack Maher stepped to the spot with just 12 yards separating Indiana from a spot in Sunday’s Big Ten tournament final.
Maher sent his shot to the left side of the net, and goalkeeper Niklas Neumann dove the correct way. But the ball scooted past his outstretched arms and rippled the back of the net to earn a 1-0 double-overtime win and advance to the final against Michigan.
“You cannot win a game when you don’t score,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Our issue tonight had nothing to do with defending, it had all to do with possessing and attacking.”
With seconds left in the first overtime period, a whizzing cross across the goalmouth barely missed the outstretched foot of an Indiana attacker. In a contest full of Hoosiers chances, it was one more near-miss.
But less than three minutes into the second 10-minute overtime, Maher ended the proceedings with a penalty into the bottom-left corner.
Indiana outshot the Terps 22-6, and Neumann posted a career-high eight saves. The final attempt from the spot averted his last outstretched effort, ending Maryland’s Big Ten tournament run.
“That game could have been ugly if not for Niklas,” forward Justin Gielen said. “So [we’re] very grateful to have him back there.”
In Cirovski’s squad’s first matchup against Indiana this season, the Hoosiers botched open looks with off-target shots on all 10 of their attempts.
It was a different story in the Big Ten tournament rematch at Ludwig Field throughout. Indiana pressured the Terps with four first-half shots on goal.
Neumann robbed forward Herbert Endeley with a one-on-one stop to keep the top-seeded Hoosiers off the board in the 27th minute.
On the next dangerous chance for Indiana, Neumann was beaten cleanly in the 42nd minute, with a shot from Penn seemingly destined to break the tie. But Di Rosa positioned himself on the goal line and cleared it away to keep the ball from finding the back of the net.
Maryland’s attacking pressure was much less pronounced over the first 45 minutes, with just one shot on goal.
“[Indiana] just took over,” Cirovski said. “We couldn’t maintain possession with our midfielders or forward players, we couldn’t really put them under any pressure when we had the ball, and we were forced to do a lot of defending.”
As the Hoosiers continued to have sustained success penetrating the Maryland defense in the second half, the Terps made a concerted effort to quickly clear the ball out of dangerous areas.
With the box defending coming under fire to close the regular season, Cirovski’s defense has made it a priority in the conference tournament to get to the ball and send it away quickly.
“I thought our backline was terrific,” Cirovski said. “We did many of the things you have to do to win a game like this. Our box defending was outstanding again, we took some balls off the line again.”
With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, the Hoosiers ramped up the pressure. Neumann had to make three leaping saves and one diving stop within a four-minute span to keep Indiana from deciding the game in regulation.
Maryland’s only shot of the second half came after a foul just outside the box with 2.9 seconds remaining. Senior captain Eli Crognale stood over the ball with a chance to provide a moment of magic, but instead, his free kick was blocked before reaching the net.
Neumann had one last chance to extend the game, like he had done all night. The freshman goalkeeper scouted Indiana and correctly anticipated the shot’s direction. But this time, his sprawling attempt wasn’t enough.
“It’s tough for a goalkeeper when it goes near-post area,” Neumann said. “It’s unlikely that I didn’t get a hand on it.”