Freshman midfielder Veronica Ellis played less than 12 minutes for the IU women’s soccer team in Sunday’s 1-0 win against Minnesota, but that was all it took to create the spark the Hoosiers needed.
Ellis checked into the game in the 67th minute as a defensive substitute on a corner kick with the game tied 0-0. Just two minutes later, she found herself at the head of a Hoosier transition attack.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Ellis said. “I was so nervous about the defensive aspect of it and I didn’t want my man to score that I was never expecting to do something on offense.”
Ellis said she could hardly believe she was onside when senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy found her with a wide-open field in front of her. Ellis beat Minnesota goalie Tarah Hobbs one-on-one to the far post, propelling the Hoosiers to their first win in a Big Ten opener since 2007.
“I don’t think they expected me to be coming forward,” Ellis said. “Lisa got the ball, and I noticed I was wide open, and she played me through the space. When I ran onto it, I thought I had to be offside because I was so wide open.”
It was not the first time this year IU has relied on new faces to come in and make an impact. IU Coach Amy Berbary has not been afraid to change her lineup when the team has struggled.
Berbary said the decision to put Ellis in late as a spark was a no-brainer.
“They were running us into the ground, and we had to make a change,” Berbary said. “We talk all the time about coming in and making an impact. She was in for about a minute, and it was her second touch on the ball, and she buried it.”
It is that type of confidence in her bench that Berbary said she has relied on all season.
“That’s what you need from players,” Berbary said. “And that’s big time. Could I have imagined that she was going to score in one minute? Probably not, but she was a super sub.”
On the defensive half, senior goalie Shannon Flower recorded her seventh shutout of the season.
The defensive backs limited the Gophers to 11 shots, two of which were on goal.
“The backs were solid today,” Berbary said. “They did what we asked them to do. They played a very difficult team. They pushed pretty high and put 10 players on us in transition pretty quickly, but Lara (Ross) did a great job of just taking leadership back there and staying organized.”
IU improves to 8-0-1 with the win, remaining undefeated in what has been the best start in program history.
Nouanesengsy said she believes the win against Minnesota, a team that had gotten recognition in the top 25 coach’s poll, helps the Hoosiers establish themselves.
“It’s huge for us,” Nouansengsy said. “It’s a great start to the Big Ten. It is going to give us more of a confidence for the next game, and now we are really looking forward to the next one.”
If there was any remaining doubt in IU, Berbary said she believes that doubt has been
“I think everyone in the community and even our own team was wondering if we were for real,” Berbary said. “We came in and played a very good Minnesota team that has some great wins on their schedule, and we got it done. If there is any question if we are for real, I think it has been answered.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuzien.