Hoover, Ala. – Indiana completed their Quest for Eight, known around Bloomington as the Q48, with a 1-0 win over Georgetown, to win the 2012 NCAA College Cup. Nikita Kotlov’s goal with 27 minutes left in the second half stood up, even as Georgetown fought to the last kick of the ball.
Indiana’s fifth year senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner was beside himself. “I’m just so excited,” Soffner said. “It’s the best feeling ever, I haven’t stopped smiling,” the big goalie added, “since the Xavier game.”
With the sun struggling to breakthrough the Alabama clouds over Regions Field, nominal home team Indiana junior Jacob Bushue tapped to Eriq Zavaleta and the College Cup Championship Final was under way. Seconds later the Hoosiers were nearly in on goal, but Kotlov couldn’t stretch quite far enough for a long Indiana pass.
Indiana applied the early pressure, and Gomez had to range 15 yards outside his penalty area to clear with Zavaleta bearing down. Semi final hat trick hero Steve Neumann nearly turned provider after a great run, but Andy Riemer’s touch let him down. All this in the opening five minutes.
High pressure from the Hoosiers was keeping the Hoyas pinned deep, and it nearly paid off with about 20 minutes to play in the half. Under pressure, center back Cole Seiler was robbed by A.J. Corrado inside his own penalty area, but Hoya keeper Tomas Gomez was quick off his line and he saved well.
After the game Zavaleta said that, “Maryland gave them a lot of space, and Georgetown is a good team, if you give a team like that space they’re going to gain confidence and get their mojo.” ‘It was our goal,” said Zavaleta, “from the first minute to get after their backs and get after the goal and make them feel pressure.”
Corrado, Zavaleta, Kotlov and substitute Femi Hollinger-Janzen all looked dangerous, while the Hoyas were relying on the occasional counter. Still it was the Hoyas who had the better goal scoring chances in the first half. In the aftermath of a corner kick Tyler Rudy tested Indy keeper Luis Soffner, and Soffner was up to the test, pulling off a big save. Freshman Brandon Allen brought about another good save from Soffner from 10 yards, although Allen probably should have scored with about 10 left in the first half. Georgetown finished the half strong, with both coaches making liberal use of their benches.
Indiana started well again after the break, with Dylan Lax continuing to break up Georgetown clearances and prompting IU’s offense. The game began turning Georgetown’s way with Neumann, Andy Riemer, Jimmy Nealis, Melvin Snoh and Ian Christianson controlling play.
Then, seemingly out of nothing, Indiana struck. With almost 10 minutes played Patrick Doody got in a good cross with that sweet left foot of his, that Zavaleta nodded down to Kotlov. Surprisingly, Kotlov was all alone in front of goal, and not surprisingly Kotlov scored easily.
Zavaleta described the goal after the game saying, “the ball drifted in the air for quite a while, and their keeper was hesitant when it went into no man’s land.” It was a rare misstep for Tomas Gomez, who has been outstanding all tournament for the Hoyas, but it was costly.
Now play was end to end. Georgetown left fullback Nealis was raiding down the left wing at will, and Riemer’s header in traffic bounced off the crossbar and out. At the other end Indiana had Gomez under pressure, with the Hoya keeper denying Kyle Sparks, and watching with relief as Hollinger-Janzen’s effort rolled past his left upright.
With time dwindling, Soffner aggressively won a long free kick to keep the the Hoyas at bay. Then with one minute on the clock, Soffner could only watch as a header from Hoya center back Tommy Muller, hit the post and stayed out.
“When it hit the crossbar,” Soffner said, “I was so happy, sometimes you need a little bit of luck,” said the Hoosier keeper, “and I think we deserved at that moment.”
Then it was over, and the Hoosiers leapt in the air in celebration, while the Hoyas fell to the ground in defeat, and Indiana had their eighth NCAA Men’s National Soccer Championship.
Indiana: Luis Soffner, Patrick Doody, Kerel Bradford, Caleb Konstanski, Matt McKain, Jacob Bushue, A.J. Corrado, Dylan Lax, Harrison Petts, Nikita Kotlov, Eriq Zavaleta
subs:Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Andrew Oliver, Richard Ballard, Kyle Sparks, Andrew Oliver
Georgetown: Tomas Gomez, Jimmy Nealis, Tommy Muller, Cole Seiler, Keegan Rosenberry, Andy Riemer, Joey Dillon, Ian Christianson, Tyler Rudy, Steve Neumann, Brandon Allen
subs: Austin Martz, Tom Skelly, Melvin Snoh,