🎉 Indiana advances to men's College Cup final
🎟 Syracuse punches ticket to title match
🏀 Men's bracket predictions
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We have now surpassed 360 minutes since anyone has scored a goal on the Indiana defense. Another tournament game, another Hoosier shutout. Indiana blanked Pitt, 2-0, in the College Cup semifinals behind two first-half goals and maintained their shutout run through the NCAA tournament.
For all their possession (55%), the Panthers struggled to create a substantial number of scoring chances even as the game dragged on. They registered just seven shots in 90 minutes and three on target and were generally unable to find a way through Indiana’s 4-4-2 mid-block formation.
To the spectators’ eye, this game may have seemed a bit dull, but the Hoosiers are in the business of winning. They have reached this stage for the second time in three seasons and it was a combination of solid defense and efficient finishing. Indiana scored twice despite also only mustering seven shots. First, a Ryan Wittenbrink rebound after a saved penalty and then a Tommy Mihalic goal that squeezed through the tightest of spaces to double the Indiana lead. With the lack of defensive penetration on the Panthers’ part, the game was all but wrapped up after Mihalic’s effort.
As Pitt coach Jay Vidovich said postgame: “The first goal hurt us, but the second goal killed us.”
The Panthers suffered a semifinal lost to the Hoosiers for the second time in three seasons. Indiana will meet Syracuse at 6 p.m. ET Monday, Dec. 12 for the NCAA title. IU last won the national championship in 2012.
Here’s the scoring summary from Indiana’s College Cup win:
GOAL 45′ Indiana 2-0 Pittsburgh. A goal that came from just about nothing. Tommy Mihalic doubles the Hoosiers’ lead with a goal that surprised everyone in the stadium including Pitt goalkeeper Joe Van der Sar. Mihalic was running away from goal at a tight angle and snuck it just past Van der Sar’s right foot. It’s a backbreaking goal to concede just seconds before the halftime whistle.
45′ I THE HOOSIERS EXTEND THEIR LEAD WITH LESS 17 SECONDS LEFT AT THE HALF!! @Pitt_MSOC– 0
(13) @IndianaMSOC– 2
GOAL 14′ Indiana 1-0 Pittsburgh: The Hoosiers’ leading scorer Ryan Wittenbrink gets a bit fortunate, having his penalty kick saved by Pitt’s Joe Van der Sar but reacting first to the rebound. It’s his 10th goal of the season. Pittsburgh will have to be the first team to score on the Hoosiers in the NCAA tournament to win this game tonight.
14′ I Wittenbrink on the rebound! Indiana takes the early lead. @Pitt_MSOC – 0
(13) @IndianaMSOC – 1
📺 @ESPNU #MCollegeCup pic.twitter.com/FaK6bj26Xu
When: 8:49 p.m. ET
Where: WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina
How to watch: ESPNU or ESPN+
This is a matchup of one historic program in DI men’s soccer and one that is in the middle of its most successful period in history. Indiana is no stranger to this stage, having reached the College Cup on 21 previous occassions and have won eight national titles, second-most of all-time. Their most recent triumph came in 2012, and at that time, Pittsburgh had never reached the national semifinals. The Panthers made their first appearance in 2020 and have now reached two College Cups in three seasons under coach Jay Vidovich.
Aside from the obvious motivation to win this match, a few players on Pitt’s roster likely have an extra chip on their shoulder as players who were not only on the team but on the field when the Panthers fell to these same Hoosiers in the 2020 College Cup semifinals. Pitt’s fantastic foursome of Bertin Jacquesson, Valentin Noel, Filip Mirkovic and Jackson Walti will remember that loss too well, and a revenge win would make it that much sweeter. Jacquesson and Noel have combined for seven goals and two assists in the Panthers’ four tournament games while Mirkovic and Walti have played virtually every minute in midfield during this run.
This is just the third meeting all-time between the programs and all have come since 2019. Pittsburgh fans may shudder at hearing the name Herbert Endeley. The Indiana forward scored the game-winner in both previous meetings. Can he pull off a hat trick of sorts against the Panthers? If not him, Pitt should certainly be wary of Ryan Witterbrink, who leads the team in both goals and assists with nine apiece.