After taking down two ranked conference opponents last weekend, another one lies ahead of the Hoosiers on Sunday when IU will travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 16 Michigan.
But the Hoosiers must not get ahead of themselves, as they need to take care of business at home Friday against Kent State (2-6) before setting their eyes on the next opponent.
“To keep that mental toughness and to make sure we give our best effort on Friday, we don’t want to overlook that game,” IU Coach Amanda Janney said. “We know how important the Michigan game is but we want to make sure we take care of Kent and focus on that game when the day comes.”
The Golden Flashes enter Friday’s game after a 5-1 victory over Longwood University and snapping a six game losing streak. However, as members of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, Kent State has piled on the competition to start the season as all six of their losses have come against either Big Ten teams or ranked opponents such as Old Dominion and Stanford.
The Hoosier defense will have to keep junior forward Madison Thompson in check as she is currently riding a two-game goal streak including netting the lone Golden Flash goal against Michigan. Along with Thompson, IU must turn its attention to senior forward Caroline Courthouts, who is coming off a hat trick in her last outing against Longwood.
Michigan (7-3) entered the polls last week at No. 18 prior to falling out of the rankings the week before. After a 2-1 loss to No. 9 Maryland and a 2-0 win against Rutgers, the Wolverines jumped two spots in the polls for this week.
“We haven’t looked at Michigan scouting yet, we usually take one game at a time,” sophomore Maddie Latino said. “We had that mentality last week with our two Big Ten games and we were successful with that.”
The Wolverines and the Hoosiers show signs of similarities in their play. Neither team has one prolific scorer, and both rely heavy on their defense and goalkeepers.
Michigan goalie Sam Swenson leads the Big Ten in save percentage this season at a .783 clip while only allowing 10 goals through the first 10 contests. Swenson’s statistics are a testimony to the defense in front of her as she has only faced 46 shots on goal compared to IU’s goalkeeper Noelle Rother who has faced 57 shots on goal through nine game.
If the Hoosiers can take down Michigan on the road it would be the Wolverines’ first defeat of the season to an unranked opponent. After starting the season 0-2 with losses to ACC powerhouses No. 2 North Carolina and No. 11 Wake Forest, Michigan rallied off six straight wins before hitting a roadblock against No. 9 Maryland last week.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy the good things we did on Friday,” Janney said. “Then on Saturday we’ll hand them the scouting report, go over video and practice on Saturday to prep for Michigan.”
Latino earned Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the week honors following her two goals and one assist last weekend in the upset victories over No. 16 Iowa and No. 14 Northwestern. Along with Latino, Rother claimed defensive player of the week and freshman of the week awards for her dominating performance in goal.
Junior defender Kate Barber and sophomore midfielder Taylor Pearson were two Hoosiers that stood out this past weekend. Both showcased impeccable dribbling moves, which was key in allowing the ball to transition downfield to set up a couple of key goals for IU.
“Maddie can play everywhere, like a lot of players on our team,” Janney said. “Moving forward in the year, I think its great because a lot of teams can’t scout us because who knows where our players will be and we’re still trying to find that perfect combination.”