IU heads to East Lansing, Michigan to take on conference foe Michigan State (4-8) before returning to Bloomington to play No. 1 Syracuse (11-0) on Sunday.
“We’re really fixing a lot of things from the weekend and just building on the way we play,” senior forward Nicole Volgraf said. “We’re preparing really hard for Michigan State and we’re ready to get a Big Ten win.”
Michigan State is a team that usually finds itself in the postseason tournament. But this season the team was in the midst of a five-game losing streak before fending off Rutgers at home in double overtime Oct. 2.
Shaky goaltending has been a consistent theme for the Spartans this season. Goalkeeper Sierra Patton sits last in the Big Ten in save percentage and goals against average.
“Every Big Ten team is going to be a really tough competitor,” IU Coach Amanda Janney said. “They know it’s such an important game and this is a must win for both teams.”
IU’s balanced scoring attack has been able to keep opponents’ defense on edge as junior midfielder Kate Barber, sophomore midfielder Maddie Latino and sophomore forward Taylor Pearson have overcome defenders with their dribbling moves.
IU Coach Amanda Janney’s mentality of taking each game one at a time has shown success for the Hoosiers so far this season. IU knows that it must focus on Michigan State first before turning its attention to the top team in the nation.
“The prep for Syracuse is to play outstanding against Michigan State,” Janney said. “Getting another Big Ten win is so important to us right now, that’s all we are focused on.”
This will be the second time in program history that IU will take on a team ranked No. 1. The last time was against Wake Forest in 2003.
Three Orange players have more goals than the Hoosier’s top goal scorer Latino this year.
Syracuse is dominant on the defensive end as well. Senior Jess Jecko has only allowed nine goals through 11 games this year and Syracuse has the second best scoring margin in the nation.
“We haven’t really started preparing for Syracuse yet because it totally is just one game at a time,” junior defender Mollie Getzfread said. “Everyone just knows though with the way we’re practicing. We’re ready to play them and ready to be challenged and really step up our game.”
This weekend for IU mimics a similar scenario it had earlier this season when No. 16 Iowa and No. 14 Northwestern came to Bloomington and IU was able to get upset wins against both teams.
The difference this time is that the Hoosiers will have to travel back home from East Lansing before they go up against the Orange.
“We love playing on our home field, but I think when playing at away turfs the girls are definitely intelligent to make any changes they need to in terms of the field,” Janney said.