A familiar name showed up in the box score in IU’s 3-2 overtime win against Michigan State on Sunday.
Senior forward Rebecca Candler with the assist.
Freshman midfielder Veronica Ellis got the headline for the winning goal. Candler got the less attractive assist.
“I’m not going after the sexiest stat,” Candler said. “I like to be a playmaker on the field however I can contribute. I like to win games.”
Candler said she has never shied away from setting her teammates up for success. She embraces it.
“We have people that can score goals,” Candler said. “If I can help them achieve that, then I’m happy with doing that.”
Her willingness to create opportunities for her teammates has been a luxury IU Coach Amy Berbary has tried to instill into her entire offense.
“We talk to our attacking players in general about instead of getting goals and assists, we talk about points,” Berbary said. “If they walk out of a game with points, they are doing their part in helping this team win, and Candler is one of the best at that.”
Last season, Candler set a school record for assists in a season with 10.
She also has the school record for assists against Big Ten opponents, with 10 in her career.
On top of these records, Candler is only six assists away from matching IU’s all-time career assist record of 24, set by IU alumna Wendy Dillinger.
“She has come up big for our team,” junior midfielder Jordan Woolums said. “She has been consistently one of the best players on the field in every game.
“She’s on everyone’s scouting report, so for her to overcome that knowing that she is going to get double- or triple-teamed and still produce points is great.”
Woolums pointed out one major asset Candler has that has made her the offensive weapon she is.
“Her scissors move,” Woolums said. “She is the one that really coined that move on the team. A lot of times the defense just doesn’t know what to do with her because she is unstoppable.”
Candler’s ability to break down defenders with the scissors move creates the space she has needed to get her teammates in positions to score.
“It is something I learned when I was really young, and I think that it is one of those things that works for me,” Candler said.
She backs her defender up, crosses them over with the scissor dribble and then lets her athletic ability do the rest.
“After you beat them you can just get your body around them,” Candler said. “Being taller and bigger than a lot of the defenders really helps me after I get by them.”
Along with her ability as an offensive weapon, Berbary said Candler’s locker room leadership and humbleness have been key in her success.
“She’s not technically a captain and doesn’t wear the arm band, but she sure is a captain in my eyes,” Berbary said. “She does all the right things on and off the field. She is a very humble, unselfish person.
“You’d never know the stats she has come up with if somebody didn’t tell you.”
With only three more regular season games left, Candler’s time to catch Dillinger’s record is running out.
A hip injury that troubled her during her first two seasons set her back, giving her less time to perform at a high level to get the assists she would need to break Dillinger’s mark at 24 assists.
“I think that taking two years to getting close to breaking a record is pretty substantial, and I’m proud of that,” Candler said. “No matter if I break the record or not, I think I’ve done a lot in two years that I’m proud of.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.