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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

Team uses slogan for motivation

CAROUSELspWomensSoccer

A quick Twitter search on IU women’s soccer will uncover an unfamiliar phrase that has become the trademark of the program.

“#12ISEABOVE.”

Players and coaches have been tweeting “#12ISEABOVE” since the initial Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll listed the Hoosiers as 12th in conference — dead last.

When the poll came out, IU Coach Amy Berbary printed it out, headed directly to the locker room and posted the 12th-place ranking on the wall.

“That’s what our conference thought of us,” Berbary said. “It was nothing where we were spiteful; it was the absolute truth. We had to band together as 30 players and four coaches to rise above 12th place.”

That was when the hashtag started.

The “12” doubles as the letter “R” in the phrase “rise above.” The number represents IU’s initial Big Ten ranking and what the team plans to do in response to it.

“We are just going to rise above people’s expectations,” sophomore defender Caitlin O’Connor said. “We weren’t going to get down because we were ranked 12th. We were just full-on going to give everything we had and go in a good direction.”

Since the implementation of the hashtag, everyone on the team has embraced both the phrase and being the underdogs in the conference.

“I think it was a big motivation because we never really had a single phrase that we could relate to,” junior forward Monica Melink said. “Obviously the 12 is representing where we stand in the Big Ten. That has really motivated us to take every opportunity we can and realize that this is where we were in preseason. We need to use this as a motivation to rise above.”

Melink said the entire team has embraced the initial ranking and the “#12ISEABOVE” mindset.

“It’s awesome,” Melink said. “You have to fully appreciate that everybody on this team is here for a reason, and we all strive for the same goals and that’s to go as far as we can.”

Entering the final week of the regular season, IU has shattered those preseason expectations.

IU is fighting to earn the third seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament.

At the very worst, the team will finish fourth in the conference standings.

The one time 12th-ranked Hoosiers have been anything but last place in the conference.

“Everything has just kind of clicked this year,” senior goalie Shannon Flower said.

Berbary said part of the success has come from setting clear, concise goals. The first was to make the Big Ten tournament.

“Now they have a sense of something to work for,” Berbary said. “I think that’s what was missing.”

Berbary said the team thrives on goals.

“They kind of just all bought in, and now we are where we are,” she said.

After IU accomplished its immediate goal of making the Big Ten tournament, Berbary has broken up the rest of the year into three parts.

“First, we have a one-game season against Nebraska,” Berbary said. “The next is a three-game season for a diamond ring. The next is the NCAA Tournament. Six games for a national championship.”

Despite the success the Hoosiers have had, Berbary is not letting her players forget the meaning and the motivation that “#12ISEABOVE” has provided her team throughout the year.

“#12ISEABOVE” has been the rallying call for the team all year, and that is not expected to change.

“I still talk about it,” Berbary said. “I don’t care that we’re fourth. Everybody thought that we were going to be last.”

Berbary said she is never going to discount IU’s ranking in the preseason coaches’ poll.

“I remind them of that all the time no matter how well we do so I can just light a little bit of a fire underneath us to prove to everybody that we are for real,” she said.

O’Connor said she is definitely excited about the postseason run, but for now they are sticking to the “one game at a time” mentality Berbary has instilled in them all season.

“We are definitely excited that the hard work has gotten us into the tournament,” O’Connor said. “But the banquet is where we are going to sit around and talk about what we accomplish. For now, we are taking it one game at a time.”

Beyond that, the Hoosiers have their eyes set on the NCAA tournament and they will continue to try to “#12ISEABOVE.”

“We accomplished our immediate goal,” Berbary said. “The pressure now is trying to get to the big dance.”

Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.

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