Every week the IU women’s soccer coaching staff posts the Big Ten standings in the locker room.
Underneath the eighth team there is a highlighted line — the cut off. Any team below that line does not qualify for the Big Ten Tournament at the end of the season.
IU hasn’t made the tournament since 2007.
The posted standings in the locker room serve as a constant reminder of the team’s goal: putting an end to that postseason drought.
“We talked about as a staff that we need to make sure our goals that we have for this program are clear and concise,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “That just helps us out by being able to show a measure of our goals.”
Junior midfielder Abby Smith thinks the newly added emphasis on the rankings has helped.
“It’s huge just being able to see the line,” Smith said. “Above the line, that’s who is getting in. Below the line, you’re not. It’s good to just be able to see where we are each week.”
Smith said the rankings act as a motivation tool.
“It puts a little extra fight in us to know that we are still in the running to win the Big Ten and stuff like that,” Smith said. “It just gets to a point where we know we have to play every game our hardest to get the result we need.”
Among the various rankings the Hoosiers have watched is the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
RPI measures a team’s performance based on a formula that takes into account its winning percentage, its opponents’ winning percentage and the strength of schedule of those opponents.
At first, Berbary said RPI was foreign to her squad.
“They didn’t know what is was when I first got here,” Berbary said. “So we did a brief presentation on it. They all pay attention to it and they know it, and I think that helps drive them and has helped our season tremendously.”
Now, the Hoosiers (10-2-1, 3-2) know they currently tied for fifth in the Big Ten standings, sit 49th in the RPI and are knocking on the door of securing an at-large bid.
When the initial Big Ten rankings came out, IU was ranked last.
That was bulletin board material for Berbary.
“The second I got the preseason ranking I printed it off, highlighted it and I put it in the locker room,” Berbary said. “We had a meeting and I said, ‘This is where Indiana soccer is. What are you going to do about it?’”
IU missed out on the Big Ten Tournament last year after losing the final spot in a tie-breaker to Iowa.
This year, junior midfielder Bekah White said the Hoosiers want to pave their own path.
“We are really just trying to create our own destiny here and make up our own faith,”
White said. “We want to stay above that line and the RPI so we just can’t let it go by chance this year.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.