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Hoosiers tops Xavier 4-1, advance to NCAA Sweet 16

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The first career hat trick for junior midfielder Nikita Kotlov came at an opportune time as the No. 16 seed Indiana men’s soccer team posted a 4-1 win over Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon on Jerry Yeagley Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

Indiana (12-5-3) will face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Sunday, Nov. 25 in a third-round match in South Bend.

“Hats off to Xavier on an outstanding season,” said head coach Todd Yeagley. “They are very well coached and have some outstanding attacking players. We knew this would be a very difficult match.

“I thought we started the game well and when (Xavier) got its goal they started to find the game. I thought in the second half we adjusted well. We went a little more direct that we would like to but that is what the game was giving us.”

Indiana took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute with Kotlov’s first score of the day. Junior Harrison Petts played the ball through traffic before a touch to junior A.J. Corrado. Corrado then found Kotlov in the mix six yards out and he took a shot to the far post. The ball bounced off the post and trickled in as a Xavier defender made one last effort to clear.

The Musketeers made it an even match in the 33rd minute when Matt Walker tallied his 11th goal of the season. The play began with a Gino De Paoli corner kick that made its way into the mixer. Adar Cohen took a shot that was blocked, and Luke Spencer downed the ball to the feet of Walker.

The tightly-contested match saw each team head to the locker room with six shot attempts at the halftime break.

Neither team put up much of an offensive threat through the first 20 minutes of play in the second period, until Kotlov broke through with the game-winning goal in the 68th minute. Corrado had the ball near the touchline on the right side of goal and played it back to an open Kotlov. With no one closing in and space to move, the junior took a few touches before unleashing a curling shot from 18-yard out.

Xavier goalkeeper Justin Marshall managed to get his fingertips on it but the powerful shot slammed into the upper 90 for goal No. 2 on the day.

“AJ passed me the ball and I had a few yards to run,” Kotlov said. “They gave me a little more time and didn’t close me down quick enough. I just hit it and it went in.”

Twelve minutes later a score from freshman Femi Hollinger-Janzen broke the game open as he took a pass from sophomore Eriq Zavaleta on the right side and skipped a shot under Marshall.

Exactly three minutes later Kotlov iced the game with his third goal of the day. Junior Jacob Bushue did the dirty work on the score, bringing the ball up the left side before sending a rolling serve across the goal mouth. Kotlov only needed to poke in the perfectly-placed ball for his seventh goal of the year.

All seven of Kotlov’s goals this season have come in the last eight matches. Corrado’s assist was his Big Ten-leading 10th of the season. For Zavaleta he has scored at least one point in four of the last five matches.

The Hoosiers and Fighting Irish will meet for the second time this season. Notre Dame was a 1-0 winner over Indiana on Sept. 26 in Bloomington.