Like many players on this year’s squad, sophomore defender Caroline Dreher has had to adjust to a new role on the field.
Dreher and other returning players have had their roles altered to accommodate the influx of 11 true freshmen, and for Dreher, that has meant settling into a new role as a substitute for the Hoosiers.
“It’s cool being able to come off the bench and bring energy to the team,” Dreher said. “It’s nice to be able to help the team try and get some points and whatever spot the coaches need me at that day.”
Dreher has come off the bench in 13 consecutive matches for IU after starting the team’s first two games this season against Louisville and Western Michigan. The decision to frequently use Dreher as a substitute has been a successful one for IU Coach Amy Berbary.
Both of Dreher’s goals this season have come in matches in which she was used as a substitute, including Aug. 26, when she scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory at Butler. Dreher has had prior experience playing up top in an attacking role and said she enjoys the moments where she is able to put her experience to use for IU.
“My whole life I’ve been an attacking player, and I’ve played a bit in the back line on defense here at IU,” Dreher said. “So it’s cool for me to be able to bring that attacking side of my game to the team to help us out.”
The ability to use Dreher in both an offensive and defensive capacity is a big reason why Berbary has used Dreher in a role off the bench this season. As a utility player, Dreher offers a wide range of skills when entering a match, rather than simply providing the team with just an offensive or defensive focus.
Dreher also provides IU with valuable experience when she enters a game. Berbary said Dreher, despite only being a sophomore, is one of the few players she has total confidence in when it comes time to perform.
“I feel like Caroline has the talent and the skill to play anywhere in the front five for us. We’ve even used her as an outside back,” Berbary said. “She is just a good tactical mind. She’s grown a ton in being able to adapt and adjust, whether it’s 10 minutes into a game or 40 minutes into a game.”
As a freshman last season, Dreher recorded two assists and featured in each of the team’s 19 games played. She credits her playing time last season with helping her be more comfortable playing soccer at the collegiate level.
“Having the experience last year definitely helped me adjust to the college speed and the college intensity,” Dreher said.
College soccer isn’t something new to the Dreher family, though. Dreher’s older sister, Rebecca, also played at IU as a midfielder for four seasons from 2010 to 2014.
Berbary, who coached Rebecca for her final two seasons at IU and has now coached Caroline for two seasons, has noticed both differences and similarities between the two sisters on and off the field.
“They have very similar mannerisms, but very different personalities,” Berbary said. “Rebecca was a bit more serious and analytical, while Caroline is a bit more relaxed and jokes a lot. As players, both of them gave a tremendous effort every time they were on the field and were great teammates.”
Although having her older sister play at IU gave Dreher a sense of familiarity with the team, she still enjoys being able to have her own connection to the team.
“It was really cool to have had the familiarity with IU because we would come here so often for Rebecca’s games,” Dreher said. “But I also feel like I have my own experiences here with the coaching staff. So it’s cool.”
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