Determining what is and what isn’t a penalty kick is the most subjective call in soccer.
One referee may interpret a foul in the penalty box in a completely different fashion than another.
On Thursday night in Evanston, Illinois, match official Art Arustamyan judged that IU junior midfielder Kayla Smith committed an over-the-back foul on Northwestern sophomore forward Brenna Lovera inside the penalty box in the 13th minute. While freshman goalkeeper Sarah L’Hommedieu dove to her left to save Lovera’s initial shot from the penalty spot, she was unable to prevent Lovera from scoring on a rebound effort.
Lovera’s fifth goal of the season would be the only one scored in the match. Northwestern defeated IU 1-0 in each team’s first Big Ten match of the season.
IU (3-5-1) entered Thursday’s match looking to test Northwestern junior goalkeeper Lauren Clem, who had not allowed a goal in her last 446 minutes in net. The Hoosiers had few chances to equalize in the first half following Lovera’s opening goal.
The best opportunity for the visitors came in the 31st minute when sophomore defender Justine Lynn was able to fire a shot from the top of the 18-yard box. Lynn’s rising shot was knocked down and collected by Clem, who made five total saves in the match.
However, the Hoosiers were fortunate to not find themselves down 2-0 at the time of Lynn’s shot. Three minutes earlier, Lovera had a breakaway attempt for the Wildcats to try and double their lead. L’Hommedieu was able to stand tall and parry away the shot to keep the deficit at one.
The opening minutes of the second half brought IU’s best chance to score in the match, which fell, literally, at the feet of freshman midfielder Julia De Angelis. Miscommunication between Clem and sophomore defender Hannah Davison caused chaos in the Northwestern defense.
Clem was left stranded at the top of the penalty box with De Angelis in possession of the ball, but the ensuing shot from De Angelis was still saved comfortably by Clem.
L’Hommedieu made four saves against the Wildcats to increase her season total to 42. Her biggest moment of the second half arrived in the 62nd minute when she denied Lovera for the third time in the game. Northwestern should have made the score 2-0 immediately following the save, but junior defender Nikia Smith blazed a rebound shot over an empty net.
A flurry of late crosses into the Northwestern penalty box demonstrated the hard-working spirit IU brought to the match, but no reward came from their efforts on net. The Hoosiers were shut out for the fourth time in nine matches this season.
IU will attempt to score its first goal in Big Ten play and also grab its first conference win on Sunday afternoon in its next match at Illinois. The Fighting Illini also began Big Ten play on Thursday night, losing 2-0 at home to Purdue.
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