With four games remaining in Big Ten regular season play, IU holds its postseason destiny in its hands.
The Hoosiers currently sit ninth in the Big Ten standings with eight points from a 2-3-2 conference record. IU is two points adrift of Nebraska in eighth place, and only the top eight teams in the conference qualify for the season-ending Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament.
However, IU will carry momentum into an upcoming road stretch that will see the team play three consecutive games away from Bill Armstrong Stadium. Draws at home this past weekend against two ranked opponents, Penn State and Rutgers, gave IU a confidence boost ahead of an important match tonight at Ohio State.
“We are clawing and scratching to try and get into that eight-team tournament,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said.
The Buckeyes, 3-2-2 in Big Ten play, are sixth in the Big Ten standings. Since losing to Nebraska 3-0 on Sept. 23, Ohio State has been undefeated in its last four Big Ten matches, including wins over Iowa, Maryland and Purdue by a combined 11-1 score.
Senior forward Lindsay Agnew has powered the Buckeye offense, scoring nine goals and registering five assists, leading the team in both categories.
Of late though, it has been junior forward Sammy Edwards that has lifted Ohio State to its current spot in the Big Ten’s top eight. Edwards was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for her performances last weekend against Maryland and Purdue in which she recorded three goals and an assist.
The Buckeye-Hoosier matchup tonight pits the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week in Edwards and the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week in IU freshman goalkeeper Sarah L’Hommedieu against each other. She recorded 15 saves last weekend in IU’s two draws to help keep the team in the postseason hunt.
“Indiana is meaning something different this year to people. We are a different team than we were,” L’Hommedieu said. “We as a group are a new group, and we’ve kind of adopted a mentality of forgetting whatever has happened in the past. In a good sense, we are naïve toward everything.”
IU’s growth and development this season has been on display. While L’Hommedieu has been the only Hoosier to be recognized with a Big Ten award this season.
“We have gotten a lot better at grinding out a couple of goals here and there,” Berbary said. “Just being able to come back by halftime after being down 2-0 on Sunday, it just speaks volumes about what this team is capable of.”
Last weekend’s results can be seen as a turning point for IU, not only this season, but a turning point for the entire program, Berbary said. As IU approaches the final stretch of conference play, controlling its postseason fate is something new for the team, but something it doesn’t plan to take for granted.
“We are in the driver’s seat. It’s a good position to be in,” Berbary said. “After the magical year of 2013 when our staff came in and we lost all those players, I think we kind of got into a bit of a rut. I think now we go into every game knowing that we can win.”
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