IU women’s soccer looked like two different teams on Thursday night.
In the first half, IU was the dominant team. Junior forward Maya Piper recorded the third-fastest goal in program history after finding the back of the net just 41 seconds into the game.
However, the Hoosiers gave up two second-half goals against Northwestern and lost 2-1 to the Wildcats.
“When we took the field, we wanted to take it to them first,” Piper said. “I just saw a bad touch and knew where the ball needed to go. It was a surprise, but I think that everyone gave 100-percent effort in the moment and the ball hit the back of the net.”
The first half saw the Hoosiers play astounding defense. IU seemed to win every 50-50 ball and relentlessly pressured Northwestern.
“We had a plan to get after them,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “We knew they’d have a lot of numbers around the ball so we talked all week about pressing and when we lose the ball, pressing again, trying to break their numbers and change the point.”
Northwestern started off the second half the same way IU started the first half. The Wildcats scored in the 51st minute via a header by freshman midfielder Regan Steigleder to tie the match 1-1.
IU allowed Northwestern to slow down the pace of the game and the Hoosiers struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the second period.
“I think they just played a little bit more quality than we did,” Piper said. “I think the effort was there for our team, if our quality was at 95 percent it needed to be at 100 next time. We just needed to clean up some mistakes.”
The Wildcats weren’t done after the first goal, as they found the back of the net again after junior midfielder Michele Chernesky snuck the ball past IU freshman goalkeeper Bethany Kopel in the 70th minute. IU had a few more chances to strike back, but Northwestern kept the Hoosiers out of sync.
“They fought for those goals,” Berbary said. “We had a silly giveaway in the midfield that led to the first one and the second one, shame on us. We had two players around her and she just fought. We talked to our players about how we have to be a bit grittier in the box because we certainly had chances.”
After the loss to Northwestern, Sunday will be an important matchup for IU against Illinois. The Fighting Illini are currently last in the Big Ten, with an 0-5 conference record.
It's a crucial game for the Hoosiers in terms of staying in the hunt for a Big Ten Tournament bid.
“We just have to refocus," Berbary said. "It’s hard to win games in the Big Ten and we know that. We’re visibly disappointed about today because we think that we let this one get away from us, but we’ve got seven games left and we have to come out of this weekend with some points.”
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