HOOVER, Ala. — Nikita Kotlov scored off a header pass from Eriq Zavaleta midway through the second half to give Indiana a 1-0 victory over Georgetown on Sunday to win the NCAA men’s soccer championship.
It is the eighth championship for the Hoosiers (16-5-3), their first since 2004.
Bethany Christian graduate Femi Hollinger-Janzen played major minutes for the Hoosiers.
Indiana midfielder Patrick Doody lofted a crossing pass to the right of the goal that brought Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Gomez out from the net.
Zavaleta got to the ball before either Gomez or Hoyas defender Jimmy Nealis and sent a header to Kotlov, who kicked it into the open net with 27 minutes left.
“The ball kind of drifted in the air for quite a while,” Zavaleta said of Kotlov’s pass. “The keeper was pretty hesitant and kind of got in no man’s land. I saw Nikita running into the box, and I just wanted to get the ball down to let him make a play.”
Indiana outshot Georgetown 16-7, including eight shots on goal. But Gomez stopped the Hoosiers with six saves before giving up the game-winner.
“It’s hard on Tomas. He’ll take a lot of responsibility for that,” Georgetown coach Brian Wiese said. “It’s a ball that as the goalkeeper, if you come out you have to take it. He just missed it and let them head it back for an easy finish. It was a frustrating goal to lose.”
Georgetown (19-4-3) nearly tied the game with a minute left in regulation, but a header by Ian Christianson hit the post.
“Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck,” Indiana goalkeeper Luis Soffner said. “We’ll definitely take it.”
The Hoyas, who were making their first championship appearance in program history, had to play the game less than 48 hours after needing two overtimes and a shootout to defeat Maryland in the semifinals.
Wiese said the extended playing time might have affected his team against the Hoosiers’ pressure defense.
“Indiana played incredibly up-tempo. They pressed us really well,” Wiese said. “They were sharper to the ball. They were very good from an energy point of view. Our guys fought like crazy, but we didn’t have the legs that we normally have.”
It was the third consecutive 1-0 victory for the Hoosiers. Indiana allowed a total of two goals in its five NCAA tournament games.
“We always said that defense was going to win the championship,” Soffner said. “When we’re not having our best offensive game, our defense comes together and has that fight and that mentality to just not let the ball go in the net.
“We knew we’d eventually get a goal as long as the defense held tough. Georgetown put good pressure on us, but we had great team defense from front to back, and it paid off.”