If the women’s soccer team thought last Friday’s game against the unranked Dayton Flyers was tough, this weekend’s games will be even more challenging.
The Hoosiers (0-1) travel to College Station, Texas, to take on two top-15 teams, both of which made the NCAA tournament last season. IU will take on No. 14 Tennessee at 9:30 p.m. Friday and then host team No. 13 Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
“This is a big weekend,” IU coach Mick Lyon said. “Playing these teams we will come back a much better team. It’s a chance for our freshmen to see college soccer at its highest and our team to play in front of a hostile crowd of 6,000.”
Co-captain Natalie O’Bryan admits this is a significant weekend for the team.
“This weekend’s games are probably one of the most important of our careers so far,” she said. “We played USC last year, and that was a highly ranked team, but two in one weekend – it’s going to be tough. I think we had a good week of preparation though, and I think we are ready for anything.”
Some of this week’s preparation included a change of formation, which Lyon and the team thought was part of their problem against Dayton.
“We made changes and the things that needed to be done so hopefully we can move forward,” junior defender Jessica Boots said. “It has definitely been successful in practice with the changes.”
In practice on Monday, junior Kristin Arnold talked about a possible formation change.
“Playing in the middle of the field is where I think we struggled a lot in the Dayton game,” she said. “They put us under a ton of pressure.”
The change of the formation the Hoosiers will be going with this weekend is a 4-4-2 opposed to the traditional 4-3-3. By doing this, the Hoosiers will lose a forward and move her back to the midfield. Arnold thinks this move will give them more numbers in the middle of the field, will help them get to the ball a little better and allow better movement and more dynamic runs to get open.
In Sunday’s game against the Aggies, scoring is likely to be a difficult for IU. Playing goalkeeper for Texas A&M is junior Kristin Arnold. Last season she was named to the to the NSCAA All-Central Region first-team as she posted a Big-12 best seven shutouts. This season she has been named to the 2008 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List, which honors the best collegiate women’s player. Despite her pedigree Lyon does not foresee his team changing its strategy.
“We aren’t going to change anything. We are going to use the same tactics we always do,” he said. “Not too many teams scored twice on USC, and we did. We will just play and see what the outcome is.”