“Knowing that your goalie is back there and can make some extremely athletic saves that are so difficult to make and have the game smarts to read the play is crucial,” IU Coach Amanda Janney said. “She’s very knowledgeable about what’s about to happen and predicting the next play and being ahead of the game.”
Coming from Hamburg, Germany, Rother is in her first season with the Hoosiers and ranks second for saves in the Big Ten, with 98 total saves and 5.76 saves per game. She is on course to have the most saves by an IU goalkeeper in a season in the past seven years.
Her game wasn’t as crisp at the beginning of the season. She allowed 13 goals throughout her first six games, which resulted in two IU victories. But as the season went on, Rother improved with every game.
The freshman was a key part in two crucial conference wins against ranked opponents Iowa and Northwestern. Rother recorded 11 saves between the two games while allowing three goals, earning conference defensive player of the week and freshman of the week.
After defeating Kent State in the following matchup, IU went on a three-game losing streak with Rother still being sharp in goal, never giving up more than three goals in a game against some tough opponents.
“Noelle is amazing,” senior defender Sydney Supica said. “She’s arguably the best goalkeeper in the Big Ten, and I think just to have that on our side is phenomenal, and we’re very lucky that she chose to come to Indiana.”
Rother was honored once again with the conference freshman of the week award for her effort against Ohio State and Penn State, which led to her most gutsy performance of the season against No. 6 Maryland.
She kept a team that averages nearly 3.5 goals per game to zero goals in regulation with a career high 16 saves. The Terrapins eventually broke the scoreless draw in the extra period, but Rother’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed by her teammates.
“It’s incredible to watch,” junior defender Malia Fujisawa said. “Noelle is such a talented player. She knows the game so well, reads her opponents and uses every part of her body to make the save. From her first day with us to today, she has improved beyond our expectations.”
Rother said she looks to continue her successful season as IU faces Rutgers in its final game before the Big Ten tournament. IU will try to snag an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if it can’t capture the conference crown.
“Noelle has done an awesome job of keeping the defense calm back there and giving us the confidence that she’s going to save the balls that get behind us,” junior Kate Barber said. “It’s really important to have someone that has the confidence to save every ball that is coming at them. For her back there as a freshman, she’s been outstanding for us.”