Hoosiers sink Tar Heels to advance to College Cup final

Tar Heels

Photo credit: Indiana men’s soccer

CHESTER, Pa. — One goal. That’s all it takes in soccer. Friday night, the bounce went the way of the Indiana Hoosiers who earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. Andrew Gutman sent the ball into the net in the 50th minute for the lone goal of the match. Indiana advances to face Stanford in Sunday’s NCAA Championship at 1 p.m.

“Congratulations to North Carolina. They gave us a lot of challenges tonight,” IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “I thought our individual team defending helped us when we needed it most, in the biggest moments.”

North Carolina (17-4-1) came on strong Friday evening, pushing from the first whistle. They kept the ball from the Hoosiers until the end of the first half. IU’s Cory Thomas shot the ball at UNC goalkeeper James Pyle for IU’s first shot of the match with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half. It jump-started a Hoosier attack.

Andrew Gutman rocketed a long shot on target in the 42nd minute. It was blocked by UNC’s backline. Trevor Swartz blasted the ball on target with just two minutes remaining in the half. Pyle bobbled the save, but then grabbed it as Hoosiers rushed the box. Despite the late push, the game was locked up at zeros at the end of the first half.

Second half, Indiana picked up right where it left off. On the club’s first restart of the match, Trevor Swartz bent a perfect corner kick into the box. Andrew Gutman was on the receiving end, slotting it past Pyle for the 1-0 lead.

“We knew that set pieces were going to be our strength,” Gutman said. “We knew if we could get one that would be all we needed. Trevor hit a great ball and I was in the right spot.”

The Tar Heels’ Cam Lindley shot an attempt on target in the 54th minute, but IU goalkeeper Trey Muse grabbed it for the save. Indiana’s Justin Rennicks attempted to double the lead in the 86th minute, but Pyle made the save.

Neither team gave up easily, with possession split between the two clubs for the remainder of regulation. North Carolina’s Mauricio Pineda made a play at the top of the box. Thomas tackled the ball away and ran down the pitch. Pineda caught up with him and tackled for a yellow card.

With just over a minute remaining, North Carolina pushed toward goal. Lucas del Rosario sent the ball wide right of goal. With the seconds winding down, UNC made another run, but IU’s defense cleared the line.

“I felt throughout the game we were a little hesitant,” UNC head coach Carlos Somoano said. “They got us to pause in our decisions. We chose to pause. It was a little bit of them and a little bit of us. They created that. It was almost one of those games where we weren’t going to let loose until they scored, tragically.”

Indiana (18-0-6) earned their 18th shutout of the season and remains undefeated.  IU will make its 15th NCAA Championship appearance Sunday. The Hoosiers are in search of their ninth title.

Stanford (18-2-2) dominated Akron (18-4-2) in the first semifinal of the night, topping the Zips 2-0, courtesy of goals by Foster Langsdorf and Sam Werner. The Cardinal advance to their third straight College Cup Championship. If Stanford won on Sunday they would be the first team since Virginia to win three straight. The Cavaliers won four straight from 1991-94. Cardinal head coach Jeremy Gunn said that is the last thing on the players’ minds.

“This team doesn’t have to win a third championship,” Gunn said. “They just have to win a soccer game. There will be two teams left. Those are pretty good odds.”

Follow Kathryn on Twitter: @Katknapp99.

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