Senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy said she believes today’s game against Ohio State is a chance at redemption.
Eleven months ago, the Buckeyes ruined the Hoosiers’ chance of earning a Big Ten Tournament bid when they beat the Hoosiers 5-0.
The loss was in the season finale — senior night. It ended IU’s season.
The combination of wanting to redeem that loss and a team full of Hoosier players that live in Ohio has Nouanesengsy excited to play.
“Ohio State is a good team, and we want to redeem ourselves from last year,” Nouanesengsy said. “There are a lot of girls on this team, which gives us more of a motivation to beat Ohio State.”
IU (8-0-1, 1-0) takes the field at 3 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio, in the first matchup between the schools since the season-ending loss.
The Hoosiers are coming off of a 1-0 Big Ten opening win against Minnesota on Saturday. Senior defender Lara Ross is expecting a different match today.
“It is going to be a tough match,” Ross said. “It’s going to come down to physicality, fitness and pretty much who just wants it more.”
The Buckeyes (6-1-2) tied the Illini 1-1 with a goal in the 84th minute in their last game.
IU Coach Amy Berbary knows the Buckeyes will be coming out looking to get their first conference win.
“Ohio State is going to be ready to go,” Berbary said. “They are coming off a come-from-behind win to get a tie. They are going to be hungry to get a win.”
The Buckeyes are marshalled by freshman forward Nichelle Prince, who leads the team in goals (5) and assists (4) this season.
There has been emphasis on stopping Prince, but Berbary is confident that earlier matchups against other dynamic forwards have prepared her defense.
“Most of their offense comes through number seven (Prince),” Berbary said. “We are going to have to keep our eyes on her, but we don’t really need to change much.”
Berbary went on to say that limiting mistakes will be key to winning.
“Ohio State is good enough to capitalize on our mistakes,” Berbary said. “Some of the other teams have just missed here or there, but Ohio State is not going to miss.”
Today’s game combined with another road trip to play Penn State on Sunday have made for what Nouanesengsy believes will be a critical weekend in terms of IU positioning itself in the Big Ten standings.
“Today’s game and Sunday’s game are going to be really important for us,” Nouanesengsy said. “They are probably going to be our biggest games all year. This weekend will give us more confidence going into other Big Ten games after we see what we can do against Ohio State and Penn State because they are both great teams.”
The Hoosiers may have lost 5-0 to Ohio State last year, but Ross is eying a different outcome.
“I feel like we can definitely get redemption,” Ross said. “We just have to be tuned in for 90 minutes. We can’t let up for any amount of time through any part of the field.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.