No. 2 Indiana (14-0-4) defeated Penn State (5-10-2) 1-0 in overtime Monday to advance to the semifinals of the annual Big Ten playoff tournament. Rescheduled because of dangerous weather conditions in Bloomington on Sunday, the match centered around an outstanding performance from Penn State’s freshman goalkeeper Josh Levine.
How It Happened
The first half of Monday’s match featured a gradual, unsatisfying crescendo of Indiana attacking play. Statistics tell the story — Indiana registered fifteen shots in the first half, six of which were on target. Penn State managed only one, off-target effort, and conceded seven corners to the Hoosiers.
But the Nittany Lions were kept alive by the imperious Levine. Engaged in an individual battle against Indiana forward and Big Ten top scorer Mason Toye, Levine made a total of six saves in the first half, including a one-on-one diving denial against Toye in the 23rd minute. He was continually tested as Indiana found dangerous chances on the counter attack, and almost conceded when defender Timmy Mehl tipped a header off the crossbar in the 42nd minute. But Penn State retained its shaky shutout, and the match remained deadlocked at the break.
Head coach Bob Warming transitioned his team into a more defensive formation at the start of the second half, subbing in Ryan Gallagher and Mitchel Bringolf to fortify the Lions’ defense. Toye continued to be dangerous, drilling a seemingly unstoppable free kick towards the top right corner of Levine’s net, but the freshman goalkeeper dove across just in time to parry it wide. Toye broke through Penn State’s backline again less than a minute later, but Levine’s fingertip save was enough to prevent his effort from scoring.
It seemed that Indiana had finally secured its breakthrough when a Dani Marks handball inside the penalty box gifted them a penalty kick in the 72nd minute. But midfielder Trevor Swartz blasted the ball over the bar, and the Hoosier’s quest for a goal continued.
Mounting attacking pressure made an Indiana winning goal seem inevitable over the course of the last twenty minutes of the match. Levine almost single-handedly kept the Nittany Lions alive, recording 13 saves by the end of the second half against a total of 32 shots from the Hoosiers. His performance forced the game into overtime — at the end of the 90 minutes the match remained deadlocked at zero.
Penn State’s hope of pulling off an upset proved short-lived. Six minutes into the first period of overtime, Indiana winger Cory Thomas split two Penn State defenders inside the Lions’ penalty area and curled a left-footed shot past the outstretched palm of Levine. Thomas’s goal sent the Hoosiers to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, where they will face Ohio State on Friday.
Player Of The Game
Josh Levine | Freshman | Goalkeeper
Levine recorded a total of 13 acrobatic and composed saves in what was undoubtedly the best performance of his budding career.
The Nittany Lions will not advance to the next round of Big Ten play.