Brian Wiese, who had guided a middling program to a record number of victories and its first College Cup appearance, consoled his players, one by one, from sideline to penalty area.
In the lower sections of Regions Park, dozens of Georgetown students, tapped out after a 12-hour overnight bus trip, stood in silence behind the west goal.
The third-seeded Hoyas (19-4-3) had ventured three stages further in the NCAA tournament than ever before, using comebacks and penalty-kick tiebreakers to defy expectations. But with a chance to win the university’s third NCAA championship in any sport, they felt the effects of Friday’s physical and emotional semifinal upset of No. 2 Maryland and labored most of the afternoon.
Nikita Kotlov scored in the 64th minute, the result of Gomez’s indecision, and the 16th-seeded Hoosiers (16-5-3) endured Muller’s threat to win their first title since 2004.
“If you had asked me freshman year that we would have been playing in the national final,” senior midfielder Ian Christianson said, “I would have laughed at your face.”
Wiese interjected, “So would I.”
In the 60-year history of the program, Georgetown had participated in the NCAA tournament just three times before this season. In recent weeks, the Hoyas had displayed the character and perseverance of a seasoned program, coming from behind three times to extend an improbable season.
In the finale, they manufactured two quality opportunities in the first half but lacked their typical rhythm and grace, resulting in their first scoreless effort in more than two months.
Indiana was sturdy and composed in recording its third consecutive 1-0 victory.
The Hoyas didn’t make excuses — “Indiana was just better,” Wiese said — but the lack of attacking energy could be tied to the semifinal marathon.
“It was 110 minutes and it was 110 miles per hour,” Wiese said of the 4-4 thriller decided on penalty kicks. “Indiana pressed us really well. They were very good from an energy point of view and we didn’t have the legs that we normally have.”
Predictably, this was not the free-spirited affair the Hoyas enjoyed Friday. Space and time on the ball were limited and Indiana was much more organized than the Terrapins.
Although Indiana dictated terms in the first half, the Hoyas tested Luis Soffner. The senior goalkeeper reacted quickly to smother Tyler Rudy’s one-timer from the top of the box and thwarted Brandon Allen’s bid from close range.
In between, Gomez made an outstanding one-on-one save on A.J. Corrado, who had taken the ball from defender Cole Seiler.