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Conference struggles derail promising season for women's soccer



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Redshirt junior forward Mykayla Brown passes the ball against Illinois on Oct. 1 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU will not make the postseason after reaching the Big Ten Tournament last season.  Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

Lack of offensive firepower and key losses in Big Ten play squandered the postseason aspirations for IU women's soccer this season.

In nonconference play, the Hoosiers went 4-3-1, including only one win within the confines of Bill Armstrong Stadium. So far in Big Ten play, IU is just 2-5-3 with the two wins coming almost a month apart.

“It’s been an interesting season,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “I think we have a group of talented players across the board. We’ve had to move people around in different positions due to injuries that we’ve had. If we had a full squad, maybe things would’ve been different. I think we did the best we could with what we had.” 

After just three home games, IU had to travel on the road for seven straight matches. Five of those were against nonconference opponents.

IU even earned its first ranked win since 2010 when visiting Southern Methodist University on Sept. 8.

The Hoosiers won their first Big Ten match of the season, 1-0, when traveling to Michigan State on Sept. 14 behind an early goal from sophomore midfielder Chandra Davidson.

Going 4-2-1 during that seven-game road trip sparked some hope into the program that finishing within the top tier of the Big Ten wasn’t far-fetched.

But, returning home didn’t turn out as hoped.

IU went 0-2-1 during a three-game home stretch, including a home loss to Illinois, a team that currently sits 13th in the Big Ten standings and has 13 losses on the season. It was a match that saw IU down 3-0 at one point before the Hoosiers scored with a little more than a minute left.

“I’ll look back at a couple of games and say if this would’ve gone in, but soccer is a game of inches,” Berbary said. “We won some games we maybe shouldn’t have and lost some games we certainly should’ve won.”

Last Saturday's 1-0 home loss to then-No. 25 Rutgers in overtime seemed to sum up the season thus far.

While Rutgers had only allowed five goals all season entering the match, it was the fifth time in 2017 that IU failed to get on the board. 

“We definitely put together a lot of great chances,” junior forward Mykayla Brown said. “It’s just we have to find it within ourselves to put it away every chance that we get and just continue doing what we’ve been doing."

Despite the shortcomings the season brought, IU has an opportunity to end the season on a high note.

The Hoosiers travel to No. 13 Ohio State to take on a Buckeyes team that has already clinched at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. 

If IU wins and No. 11 Penn State beats Wisconsin, Ohio State will be forced to share the title with the Nittany Lions. But, if Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes will clinch the title outright.

It will be a tall task to knock off the Buckeyes, but IU will have to keep the ball in transition and try to bury one of the few chances Ohio State will give up. The game will be another defensive grind as the Buckeyes have only allowed eight goals.

“I think we take this game as seriously as if our season wasn’t over,” Berbary said. “They’re a rival of ours and I know the team will be up for the challenge.”

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Hoosiers, but it isn’t over.

“There’s nothing really to lose at this point,” junior forward Maya Piper said. “We’re playing for ourselves, for our coaches, for our parents and for the names on our jersey, so I just think that we’ll go out Wednesday and try our hardest." 

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