With only two victories and nine losses in Big Ten play last season, the Hoosiers see plenty of opportunity going into their conference slate.
“I think we are an improved team from last year, and our training sessions have been very competitive,” junior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy said. “Starting the season, we have been able to post a better record than last year, so we are looking to continue that into Big Ten play.”
The team kicks off Big Ten play at 7 p.m. Saturday against Michigan Ann Arbor, and IU Coach Mick Lyon said preparation so far this season has focused on that matchup.
Challenging, intense games, such as those in California earlier this season, have been learning opportunities to fix mistakes before entering Big Ten play, he said.
“By the time the Big Ten season starts, we know that all the early season preparation
is getting ready for that first game on the road against Michigan,” Lyon said. “It is the best in the country, so if that doesn’t excite you as a coach and a player, then you are in the wrong place.”
The Hoosiers have fostered high hopes going into their conferences matches, with the goal in mind to not only make it to the Big Ten tournament hosted by IU this year but also secure a place in the top half of the conference.
The players have no doubt they will be able to do so.
“If we continue to believe and grow as a team, I know that we will be able to achieve our goals,” senior forward Orianica Velasquez said. “I want to do my best and score as many goals as possible to help the team.”
Still, several opponents within the Big Ten will pose challenges for the team, and the talent coursing through teams such as Penn State and Illinois particularly stand out, Lyon said.
“The task for us will be to find a way to rise up against a tough opponent,” he said.
Nouanesengsy said she believes the Big Ten talent is comparable to both Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara, both teams faced earlier this season, and agrees with Lyon’s perspective.
The team simply has to bring its best to each game, she said, and she plans to do what she can to help.
“I hope to be able to help the team by scoring some goals,” Nouanesengsy said. “Last year we struggled with that a little in conference play, so we want to turn that
In the end, both players and coach agree that winning is crucial, and that is where the team’s focus remains.
“Our team mentality is different,” Velasquez said. “All we care about is winning because every player on the team does not like to lose. So, we are focusing more and more on finding ways to win.”
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