An improbable game-winner
Reserve player Hollinger-Janzen leads Indiana to title match
HOOVER, Ala. -- They say when teams that aren't supposed to make it to a national championship game find their way to a finals match, there is usually production from unusual suspects.
Freshman Femi Hollinger-Janzen of 16th-seeded Indiana meets that bill.
Hollinger-Janzen, a reserve forward who had scored just three goals through the first 22 games of the season, scored the game-winning goal in the 27th minute to put the Hoosiers into Sunday's national championship game.
With a humble nature that belies his flashy name, attention-grabbing dreadlocks and the boisterous nature of his team's fan base, Hollinger-Janzen quickly put the spotlight off of himself and back on his team's performance.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Hollinger-Janzen said. “We moved the ball around. We definitely worked as a whole to get the ball to the back of the net.”
Hollinger-Janzen’s score came from a deflected cross that he took on the right wing and scored from eight yards out.
Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley, who put Hollinger-Janzen in early to take over for junior Jacob Bushue, put the spotlight back on his scorer.
“He’s playing through some discomfort,” Yeagley said of Bushue. “Femi [Hollinger-Janzen], we knew going in we were going to utilize in a role similarly to what we did [Friday] and what a fantastic job this young man has done in his growth this year.
“At times [Friday], he looked like an upperclassman in his decision making and his strength and his tactical decisions,” Yeagley said.
Even when talking about a controversial moment, when an Indiana goal was disallowed as time ticked away at the end of the first half, Hollinger-Janzen just brushed it off.
“We were disappointed in the call,” Hollinger-Janzen said. “But we just picked it up in the second half and took it right to Creighton. We didn’t let it bother us.”
In his high school career, Hollinger-Janzen’s numbers demanded attention. He set a school record for Indiana’s Bethany Christian with 67 career goals and had the game-winning score in the 2011 High School All-America Game. He was also a three-time letterman in basketball.
Yeagle is looking for that kind of flashiness from his freshman star in Sunday’s title game.
“We’re really pleased on where this guy’s coming and we’re going to need him to be sharp on Sunday,” Yeagle said.
But on the cusp of a national championship, for Hollinger-Janzen, it’s all about the team.
“Being a freshman, I’ve heard the great history of Indiana and the great soccer they have to offer,” Hollinger-Janzen said. “It’s such a great feeling to be in the championship game, and I just love it.
“These are a great group of guys to work with,” Hollinger-Janzen said.