In her first season at IU, Coach Amy Berbary has steered the women’s soccer team to its best start in program history.
The Hoosiers entered Thursday as the only team in the Big Ten undefeated, but suffered their first setback with a 3-1 loss against Ohio State.
“We started very flat,” Berbary said. “I didn’t think we were ready to play, and we looked timid in the first half.”
IU had previously only allowed two goals all season but quickly found themselves behind 3-0.
The Buckeyes jumped ahead early, converting on a corner kick in the third minute of the game on a ball that went between the legs of two players and rolled right past senior goalie Shannon Flower for the score.
Before the game Berbary said the Hoosiers needed to limit mistakes if they wanted to come out with a win.
Berbary said that play was exactly the type of mistake the Hoosiers could not afford to allow.
“It was key for us to deny them on set pieces and not let the ball drop in our box,” Berbary said. “We let that one roll right by us for the goal.”
Ohio State added goals in the 17th and 39th minutes to jump to a 3-0 lead before half.
IU came out of halftime with a new energy and controlled the ball for much of the second half. Junior midfielder Abby Smith netted a goal in the 65th minute but by then it was too late to come back from three goals behind.
Senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy said the team played with a different mental focus in the final 45 minutes.
“We didn’t come out in the first half,” Nouanesengsy said. “We were more focused. We knew that we had nothing to lose so we told each other we just had to give it everything and leave it all on the field.”
Even with the loss, IU is still carrying their best record at this point in the season in school history (8-1-1, 1-1-0).
Berbary remains optimistic that the loss against Ohio State might eventually end up helping her team in the long run.
“We’ve got to learn from it,” Berbary said. “It could be the best thing that ever happened to us. It kind of knocks us down a bit but shows us that we have to play and follow our gameplan.”
Nouanesengsy said she is looking at the loss as a learning experience before a Sunday noon match up against No. 8 Penn State.
“We just have to look back at this game and learn what went wrong and make sure we are focused from the start,” Nouanesengsy said. “That’s all we can really do is learn from this and take it into Sunday’s game.”
Senior defender Lara Ross said she could not even remember the last time IU beat Penn State, but regardless of the outcome there was still a lot of soccer to be played the rest of the conference season.
“We are still only halfway,” Ross said. “We still have the rest of the season. We fought really hard to get here, and we can’t let down.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.