Junior forward Maya Piper has been the go-to offensive player for the Hoosiers in their first eight games.
As IU opens Big Ten Conference play Thursday, Piper will lead the Hoosiers against Michigan State. It will be a homecoming for Piper, who grew up in Midland, Michigan, only an hour-and-a-half drive from East Lansing, Michigan.
“I would love to beat them, personally, because I have a lot of family that’s rooting against me,” Piper said. “It’ll be fun to see all of my Michigan friends.”
Piper leads IU with four goals and had the game-winner against No. 23 Southern Methodist to give the program its first win against a ranked team in seven years.
“We’ve played some really talented teams," Piper said. "SMU was a really great opponent. They definitely prepared us for what we are about to see in the next couple weeks.”
IU will come into the game having played its last five games on the road. It has been a long road trip, which will end after traveling to Michigan on Sunday. IU Coach Amy Berbary has said all season that the reason for such a tough nonconference schedule is to prepare her team for the gauntlet of the Big Ten.
“I think we put together an awesome nonconference schedule to get us prepared,” Berbary said. “I think we’re at the point where when we get to conference, it’s going to be very tough, but I don’t think we’re going to see anything we haven’t seen already in the first eight games.”
The last time these two teams met in 2015, Michigan State won, 3-1, after netting two first-half goals. Last season, IU did not play the Spartans for the first time in 23 seasons. IU holds a 15-7-2 record over MSU and has never lost twice in a row in East Lansing.
Senior forward Jamie Chesnik leads the Spartans with three goals scored on the season. Sophomore goalkeeper Reilley Ott has 35 saves for MSU so far, allowing 12 goals in seven games. Michigan State lost 4-1 against Wake Forest in its only ranked nonconference game of the season.
While IU has played well in its past two games, the Hoosiers said they just want to keep moving forward.
“I think we have to start with a clean slate,” Berbary said. “Nothing we’ve done before matters right now. We need to go into games coming out with points, and that’s our goal. The only game we’ll focus on right now is Michigan State and try to get a result out of that one.”
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