IU Coach Amy Berbary said her team’s defense is typically a point of pride.
But after defeating Central Michigan 2-1 last Sunday, she said the defense wasn’t quite there.
In Wednesday’s 3-0 win against Xavier, Berbary saw her defense return to form.
Xavier forward Tori Doss, who’s scored three goals so far this season, scored no points and managed only four shots.
“We concentrated on defense after that short turnaround,” Berbary said. “They had a very dynamic forward in number five (Doss), and we had to make sure we shut her down right away, and they sure did today.”
The Hoosier defense kept the ball out of its territory for most of the first half, letting the offense do the work as it controlled the time of possession and made the Musketeer defense work.
Junior forward Abby Smith put IU on the board in the 12th minute when sophomore Kayleigh Steigerwalt found her at the far post.
The opening goal proved to be all the Hoosiers needed as the defense took it from there.
When Xavier managed to control the ball offensively, it made senior goalie Shannon Flower work. Flower made four saves on the night.
Just as Central Michigan had done on Sunday, Xavier jumped out early with a one-on-one opportunity against Flower in the goal in the opening minutes.
She made the save, which she said helped her regain confidence.
“It was big time,” Flower said. “That first stop really just let the jitters off to make the save early.”
Berbary applauded Flower’s sixth shutout on the season.
“She is big time,” Berbary said. “They broke through again just like Central Michigan, and she is calm. It’s her sixth shutout in eight games. Any time you have six clean sheets against anyone, you’re doing a pretty good job.”
The Hoosiers added another two goals to extend the lead to 3-0.
Steigerwalt added a goal in the 68th minute, and senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy added in her team-leading sixth goal of the season in the 88th minute.
“It really just got to me, and I was able to finish,” Steigerwalt said. “It was a great ball. Amy always tells us to go after the second chances, and that’s what I did.”
Berbary was pushing her team to add the insurance goals as Xavier continued to threaten IU’s early lead.
“When we went into halftime, I told our kids that one goal wasn’t going to be enough to beat this team,” Berbary said. “They were knocking on the door. We needed to get that second goal to keep them on their heels.”
For Xavier, it was the team’s first loss of the season. Senior defender Lara Ross was happy to hand the Musketeers their first loss of the year.
“This was especially a good win,” Ross said. “Xavier is a really good team. We were kind of nervous going into this because it was their best start since 1990, but we kept it together.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.