It was a night to remember for IU sophomore defender Meghan Scott.
Scott not only scored her first collegiate goal, a sublime free kick struck almost 25 yards away from the goal, but she also recorded an assist as IU defeated Cal Poly 3-1 Friday night at Bill Armstrong Stadium to begin both the Hoosier Challenge Cup and the 2017 season.
"Everybody just stepped up," Scott said. "Especially with all the hard work, it's just amazing."
While Scott's goal, scored in the 60th minute, put the icing on the IU win, it was her assist that helped put IU on the scoreboard in the 41st minute.
Despite holding more possession of the ball during the opening half, IU was repeatedly stifled when it came to the final offensive product.
Sophomore midfielder Chandra Davidson headed a corner kick taken by Scott against the crossbar in the seventh minute, but that was as close as IU got to an opening goal until Scott intervened just before halftime.
After finding space on the right wing, Scott floated a cross over the heads of two Cal Poly defenders to junior forward Maya Piper at the far post.
Piper made no mistake with her header. She powered the ball across the face of the goal and into the net to give the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead.
"We were knocking on the door," IU Coach Amy Berbary said. "We were really dangerous in that first half and to get that goal in the last five minutes I think really gave us that boost."
Scott's swerving second-half strike, which rose above a wall of Cal Poly players and moved across the penalty box from right to left, proved to be the game-winning goal.
Both Scott and junior forward Abby Allen stood over the ball prior to the free kick, but it was Scott who took it after a brief discussion between the players.
"With the way the wall was set, I thought that I might have a better shot," Scott said. "I knew where I wanted to place it and I saw the top left corner open."
Scott led IU in assists last season with seven, and figures to be a central part of the IU offense this season with her ability on set pieces.
But it wasn't just Scott who impressed Berbary on opening night.
IU junior forward Annelie Leitner scored her fourth career goal in the 81st minute from the penalty spot, after sophomore forward Macy Miller was tripped inside the Cal Poly penalty box.
Leitner also scored in last season's opening game, a 1-1 draw with Louisville. She would play one more match in 2016 before suffering a season-ending injury.
"Annelie is always going to give 100 percent," Berbary said. "She's very mentally strong. We'll look for her to lead us for sure out of that older group."
It looked as if freshman goalkeeper Bethany Kopel was going to mark her first collegiate game and first collegiate start with a clean sheet in front of a new-look IU defense.
Kopel was called into action early, making a save in the game's opening minute, but appeared to steady her nerves as the match progressed.
However, an 87th-minute penalty kick converted by Cal Poly senior midfielder Megan Abutin put a minor blemish on an otherwise solid performance from Kopel.
"Welcome to college soccer in the first 20 seconds with a huge save," Berbary said. "I think that was big for us just to amp us up and wake us up from the kickoff."
The victory marked the first time the Hoosiers have won their first regular season match since 2014. It also sets up a strong closing match to end the Hoosier Challenge Cup.
IU will face No. 13 Clemson at 1:30 p.m. Sunday to end the tournament. Clemson reached the Sweet 16 Round of the NCAA Tournament last season and won its opening match of the Hoosier Challenge Cup Friday afternoon, defeating Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 4-0.
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