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Late penalty dooms Ohio State men’s soccer in Big Ten semifinal against Indiana

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OSU junior defenders Liam Doyle (5) and Kyle Culbertson (3) fight for possession of the ball during a game against Kentucky, Oct. 28. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU and Kentucky tied, 1-1.  Credit: Taylor Cameron / Lantern photographer

OSU junior defenders Liam Doyle (5) and Kyle Culbertson (3) fight for possession of the ball during a game against Kentucky, Oct. 28. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU and Kentucky tied, 1-1.
Credit: Taylor Cameron / Lantern photographer

The penalty kick rolled to his right, but redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov leaned left before stopping, realizing his mistake as the shot found the back of the net.

The No. 2 seed Ohio State men’s soccer team (9-7-4) fell, 2-1, to No. 6 seed Indiana (12-3-5) in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament Friday in College Park, Md., on the back of the late penalty kick.

The shot — awarded because of a handball by junior defender Kyle Culbertson with about four minutes left — was served by sophomore midfielder Tanner Thompson.

Thompson — a first-team all-Big Ten selection — scored his sixth goal of the season on the play, including his second game winner.

Culbertson’s handball came just minutes after the referees appeared to miss a clear handball in Indiana’s box that would have awarded OSU the penalty kick with a chance to take the lead.

OSU played from behind in the score for the majority of the game, despite outshooting Indiana by a margin of 9-5 in the first half.

However, OSU found itself trailing at the half, 1-0, due to a goal off a free kick by senior defender Patrick Doody midway through the half.

“It was important (to score the goal). Ohio State brought a lot of pressure, we didn’t really have much on goal, so it was good to capitalize,” Doody said in an interview with the Big Ten Network after the game.

Despite the shot margin, OSU coach John Bluem said he was not satisfied with his team’s first-half performance.

“I don’t feel that we’ve played as good as we’re capable of playing yet,” Bluem said in a halftime interview with Big Ten Network.

Earlier in the week, Bluem said he felt freshman forward Marcus McCrary could be a weapon in the game because of his speed and the fact that he missed OSU’s first matchup with Indiana, a 2-1 loss on Oct. 12, with an undisclosed injury.

“The first time we played them, we didn’t have Marcus McCrary,” the 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year said Tuesday. “That gives us someone they haven’t seen. They’ve seen him on video, but you know how fast Marcus is, he surprises a lot of people with his quickness and his athleticism, so that may be something we can use to our advantage.”

McCrary indeed proved to be the weapon OSU was looking for, as he tied the game midway through the second half with his third goal of the season.

The freshman was led with a header from senior midfielder Yianni Sarris at midfield, and then it was off to the races.

McCrary beat the entire Indiana defense down the field, scoring with a strong right-footed strike that found the back of the net.

Overall, OSU outshot Indiana, 20-12, including a 9-5 edge in shots on target. However, Indiana sophomore goalkeeper Colin Webb made eight saves to hold on for his 12th victory of the season.

The Hoosiers advanced to the finals of the Big Ten tournament for the second consecutive season, after defeating Michigan State in the 2013 championship match.

Despite the loss, it was not necessarily the end of the road for OSU.

Bluem said earlier in the week that he believes — regardless of OSU’s results in the Big Ten tournament — his team will receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.

For now, the Buckeyes have nothing to do but sit and wait to learn their fate.

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