The Hoosiers are hoping to end the five-year dry spell and make it back to the postseason, this time making it further than the team did five years ago.
“This year we have one big focus of making it to the NCAA tournament,” senior midfielder Corrine Karch said. “Last year we didn’t really have one big goal. It has become about us taking steps to get to that goal.”
Senior goalkeeper Maggie Olson said that after spending so much time with the program, she wants to do something special before she departs.
“I want to have the best finish that this program has ever seen,” Olson said. “I want to make it to the NCAA tournament and make this team proud. I’ve given five years to this program, and I want to go out in the best possible way.”
After setting the team’s big-picture goal during the offseason, IU Coach Amy Robertson said the team completely changed its ?outlook.
“We had to break everything down in order to realize what it is going to take to get there,” Robertson said. “Regional wins are important and finishing in the top, our region and in the Big Ten are sights we have our eyes on.”
The road to glory won’t be easy for the Hoosiers.
Robertson was forced to replace four key starters — Hannah Boyer, Danielle McNally, Emily Bowker and Mariella Grote — going into the new season.
Robertson said she believes that a fully healthy team will not only help replace those starters, but could actually make the team better as a whole.
“We had three good players on the bench last year from injuries in Amanda Bennison, Nicole Volgraf and Brigitta Haller,” she said. “They didn’t play for us last year. We have had a lot of good fortune with our health and we are remaining injury-free, which is huge. We have a lot more veteran experience than we thought we would.”
It also helps that the team has its leading scorer from last season, senior forward Audra Heilman, back for one more season.
Heilman scored 32 total points for the Hoosiers last season, including 10 goals.
As of Sept. 20, Heilman leads the team and Big Ten in total points with 22 and also averages the most points per game at 3.67.
The Hoosiers first 6-0 record through six games gives them the best start in the program’s history and the best since 2009, when they won four games to open up the season.
Karch said the hot start doesn’t come as a surprise to the team.
“I knew we could do this well this quickly and it is pretty cool,” Karch said. “The fact that we did it doesn’t shock me. I think this team is really special.”
Although Olson is happy with the start, there are still much bigger things on her, and the team’s, minds.
“The best start in program history is awesome,” she said. “We’re just after the best finish in IU field hockey history.”
Follow reporter Dan Matney on Twitter, @Dan_Matney