IU Coach Amy Berbary has stressed the importance set pieces have played for her team this season.
Whether it’s profiting from the corner kick deliveries of freshman defender Meghan Scott or trying to improve on defensive marking against opposition free kicks, set pieces have the potential to both make and break games for the Hoosiers.
Friday night in Lincoln, Nebraska, a poorly defended set piece cost IU a shot at three points. Nebraska senior forward Jaycie Johnson lost her marker on a corner kick in the 53rd minute and headed the ball past IU freshman goalkeeper Sarah L’Hommedieu. Johnson’s header stood as the game’s only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Cornhuskers.
“It was just unfortunate that we gave up the goal,” Berbary said. “We played a really good game. Johnson scored the exact same goal against Ohio State last week. We just lost track of her.”
The Hoosiers entered Friday’s match knowing a victory over the Cornhuskers would give them a boost in the race to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. IU and Nebraska each held a 2-2 record in conference play prior to the match.
Action in the first half of the game was sparse, with neither side able to generate many scoring opportunities. L’Hommedieu was called into action on four occasions for the Hoosiers, making a save each time to keep the game scoreless.
Freshman forward Macy Miller, still in pursuit of her first collegiate goal, thought she had finally scored in the 34th minute. Miller was able to sneak behind the Nebraska defense and finish past freshman goalkeeper Aubrei Corder. However, the assistant referee flagged Miller for being offside and the goal did not stand.
Early second half pressure from IU nearly gave the visitors the game’s opening goal. Sophomore forward Maya Piper was able to produce a header toward goal that was bobbled and eventually gathered by Corder.
“The stats were pretty even,” Berbary said. “They had 10 shots. We had six. But you’re only going to have a few chances to score each game. We just need to continue to get better in the final third.”
Johnson’s goal arrived following this period of IU offensive pressure, and after going behind, the Hoosiers enjoyed two notable chances to equalize and force the match into extra time.
Sophomore forward Mykayla Brown had a one-on-one opportunity to score past Corder in the 61st minute, but was denied by the Nebraska goalkeeper. A series of last gasp efforts from the Hoosiers in the 90th minute also went without reward, as freshman midfielder Allison Jorden saw her shot saved by Corder.
The defeat drops IU’s overall record to 5-7-1 and its mark in conference play to 2-3, while Nebraska improves to 9-4 overall and passes IU in the Big Ten standings with a 3-2 conference record.
While Berbary is disappointed in the team’s inability to get a result on Friday night, she knows the margin between winning and losing is slim.
“This team has grown so much, but it does feel like a missed opportunity,” Berbary said. “We played well enough to snatch a point or three from the game.”
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