Joe Podelco / Lantern photographer
Heading into Saturday afternoon’s game, the Ohio State men’s soccer team knew it had the opportunity to seal an outright Big Ten regular season championship with a victory over No. 9-Indiana. That proved to be a tall order and the Hoosiers escaped with a 1-0 win in Bloomington, Ind.
The lone score came with just 14 seconds remaining in the first half when Indiana sophomore defender Matt McKain lofted a ball into the box that teammate and fellow sophomore Nikita Kotlov converted into a goal just past OSU junior goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
The lead held as the teams finished with 11 shots apiece. Lampson ended the day with five saves.
The Buckeyes dropped to 10-6-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten as Indiana improved to 11-3-4 overall and 3-2-1 in conference play.
Head coach John Bluem said in a press release that he thought Indiana was probably the best team in the league and they played well today.
“It was certainly a disappointment to come away without a win and not win the championship outright,” Bluem said in the release. “But it was definitely a difficult task at hand.”
It was the first shutout loss for the Buckeyes since a 1-0 loss to fifth-ranked Louisville on Sept. 25.
A Big Ten championship seemed unlikely for the Buckeyes a month ago after losing to Northwestern 3-2 on Oct. 9 in a game that Bluem told The Lantern was “one of the worst performances by an Ohio State team in (his) 15 years here.”
The Buckeyes were 7-5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference at that time and appeared to be on the outside looking in. However, the Buckeyes went 3-0-1 in the next four contests to set themselves up with a chance to win the title.
With OSU losing to Indiana and Northwestern (10-4-4, 4-0-2) winning over Michigan, the Buckeyes finish second in the league behind the Wildcats.
The loss likely also puts the Buckeyes out of NCAA tournament consideration.
The No. 2-seeded Buckeyes will try to rebound quickly as they have their first Big Ten Tournament game against No. 7 seed Penn State Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.