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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

IU takes it ‘one game at a time’

CAROUSELspWomensSoccer

All season long, players and coaches have been saying the same thing.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re treating this like it’s our last game.”

It is one of the overused clichés in sports, but that mentality has been embraced by the IU women’s soccer team this season.

“I think it was Lisa (Nouanesengsy) who said that she plays like every game is her last,” senior defender Lara Ross said. “I think that’s kind of the mentality that we have tried to foster with the whole ‘one game at a time’ thing because really that’s all you’re guaranteed.”

Senior forward Lisa Nouanesengsy said she was on the bus when she came to the realization that it was her last season.

She wanted to make sure she got the most out of her final year and did not graduate having let any opportunities slip by.

“I realized this is my last year, and I don’t know why I didn’t think about it in my past years, but it really helped me,” Nouanesengsy said. “If we go into every game thinking like it’s our last game you’re ever going to play, then you should just leave everything on the field.”

When IU takes the field against Illinois tonight at 5:30, the first round of this year’s Big Tournament, the “playing like this is our last game” mindset becomes reality.

Only the Big Ten champions earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Every other team needs to wait to see if they’re given an at-large bid.

Winning games in the Big Ten Tournament is the only way for IU to pad their RPI ranking in an attempt to secure a bid.

One of the major obstacles facing IU is that not a single player on the Hoosiers roster has played in the postseason during their collegiate career.

In response to that, IU Coach Amy Berbary put an added emphasis on the regular season games throughout the season to prepare her team for a game like tonight.

“We’ve taken the focus of using (regular season games) as postseason play because our kids don’t have postseason experience,” Berbary said. “That’s something you can’t teach. We’ve been using these games as, ‘Oh, all right, this is our last game. Leave everything on the field.’”

Berbary said treating every game as if it was the final game of the year has been key in preparation for a game like tonight’s where “like it’s our last” becomes the reality of the situation.

The Hoosiers have no experience with postseason play to fall back on, which means tonight will be their first taste of what the Big Ten Tournament is like.

“It’s unbelievably different,” Berbary said. “There is more pressure. There is a little bit more nervousness. But I think it could be the best thing that ever happened to us that we haven’t been in it.”

The team’s “one game at a time” mindset has been its only real opportunity to counter its lack of postseason experience.

“I think it definitely prepared us for the postseason,” Nouanesengsy said. “None of us have been to the postseason. It is a great attitude, and it helps us become more motivated and focused to play. By doing that all season long, I think it’s definitely going to help us.”

When the Hoosiers take the field tonight, it will be the first time IU has been in the Big Ten Tournament since 2007.

Ross said the excitement throughout the team to be playing in the first Big Ten Tournament since then, coupled with the future NCAA Tournament implications of winning, makes up for the lack of postseason experience.

“I think our motivation for never having been there will combat it,” Ross said. “I know that we all don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I know we all really want to get to the big dance. But we can only focus on one game at a time, and it’s just really exciting to be there.”

Follow reporterSam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.

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