INDIANA SOCCER RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Andrew Gutman throws down the verbal gauntlet. Indiana won’t play for second or we-did-our-best perspective.
It’s all or nothing. Win a national soccer championship, or live with regret. Nothing else is good enough.
“We’ve got to win it,” the Hoosiers senior defender said. “This is great, getting to the College Cup, but we haven’t done anything yet. This is our last chance, and we’ve got to win it and make up for last year.”
Gutman referred to last season’s national runner-up finish, when the Hoosiers lost to Stanford in overtime in the title game.
IU (20-2-1) arrives in Santa Barbara, Calif. with a target on their backs. The Hoosiers are ranked No. 1 in the polls, and are the No 2 seed in the tourney. They will face No. 11 seed Maryland (11-6-4) in a Friday semifinal. The start is set for 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Akron (14-6-2) will play Michigan State (14-4-4) in the other semifinal. Akron upset top-seed Wake Forest, which beat the Hoosiers in the season opener, in the third round, then followed that by beating three-time national champ Stanford 3-2 in the Elite Eight.
The title game is set for Sunday at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Indiana and Maryland have played a pair of nail-biters this season, with the Hoosiers getting the best of the Terrapins on both occasions. They won 2-1 in mid-October at Armstrong Stadium, and advanced in a PK shootout in the Big Ten tourney semifinals.
“We’re excited for it,” senior midfielder Austin Panchot says. “We’re confident. We know what we’re getting.”
Coach Todd Yeagley certainly does. He has led the Hoosiers to two prior College Cups, last season and in 2012, when IU won its eighth and last national championship. Only St. Louis, with 10 national titles, but none since 1973, has won more.
Yeagley’s father, Jerry, is the winningest college soccer coach in history. That includes 16 College Cups and 12 national title games, with six national championships.
Jerry Yeagley remains a fixture at practice and at games, and you’d better believe Todd seeks his input.
“My father has been my mentor. We talk about all things related to life and soccer.
“When we made the first College Cup in 2012, very clearly he said stay on the course. Don’t change what you’re doing. Shorten things.
“Those advice moments from someone you have ultimate trust with gave me a lot of confidence to make those decisions and feel good about it. There’s no one who has been to more College Cups than he has. He learned some things from his early days that maybe he would have done differently. That’s valuable.
“I have the most successful coach at an instant if something should come up. That could help give us an advantage. We’ll certainly use that to our fullest.”
The results show it. IU’s 20 victories are its most since winning 21 in 1999, a national title season. The Hoosiers have just five losses in the last three seasons. They have a nation’s best 752 victories since the program became a varsity sport in 1973.
College soccer has never seen such sustained excellence over a five-decade span (no other program can match the 20 College Cups), with no end in sight.
IU recruits to that legacy.
“It’s all about pushing it,” Yeagley says. “We ask that when we recruit players. You’re coming here to push an unbelievable program farther. Leave your mark.
“This group has done that, and the story isn’t done yet. They’ve taken that challenge and gone with it. It’s a big responsibility. You look at all the success the program has had. It gives you sense a pride. The team feels that.”
Win-it-all pressure doesn’t mean the Hoosiers won’t enjoy this experience. Yeagley pushes fun as much as focus.
“You look at the success program has had,” he says, “and you see 20 College Cups. For being around this program forever, it means a lot. Each one is so hard to get to. So many things have to go right. We’re happy to experience another game.”
IU was severely tested in Friday night’s 1-0 Elite Eight win over No. 7 seeded Notre Dame. That followed three straight dominant performances and could provide the edge needed this weekend.
“This team finishes off plays,” Yeagley says.
Indiana has by far the most College Cup experience of the remaining teams.
Akron won the 2010 national title and was the 2009 national runner-up. It also made the College Cup in 2015 and last season. Maryland has three national runner-up finishes, the last in 2013, and 10 previous College Cup appearances. Michigan State was the national runner up in 1964 and ’65, and reached the College Cup in 1962 and ’66.