Heading into last weekend’s matches, IU women’s soccer had an opportunity to put itself in contention to qualify for the season-ending Big Ten Tournament.
IU needed to pick up points against either No. 9 Minnesota or Wisconsin as part of a two-match home stand at Bill Armstrong Stadium. They did not disappoint.
After losing to Minnesota on Friday, sophomore forward Cassidy Blacha scored the winning Hoosier goal in the 78th minute Sunday afternoon as IU defeated Wisconsin 3-2. Blacha’s winning goal came as the result of a chaotic sequence after an IU corner kick.
Freshman defender Meghan Scott delivered a cross into the Wisconsin penalty box that dropped to freshman forward Sydney Kilgore. Kilgore fired a shot that was saved initially by Wisconsin junior goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem, but an attempted clearance by Wisconsin struck Blacha and went into the net.
“We don’t care how we score, if it’s pretty or whatever,” Blacha said. “All we can control is our work ethic. It’s what we try to focus on.”
While the Hoosiers provided late drama in the match, it was the Badgers who opened the game’s scoring. Sophomore forward Emily Borgmann redirected a bouncing ball past IU freshman goalkeeper Sarah L’Hommedieu and into the net in the seventh minute to give Wisconsin an early lead.
Less than 15 minutes later, though, IU responded. Freshman midfielder Allison Jorden headed in a Meghan Scott cross from a free kick in the 21st minute for her first collegiate goal.
Set-piece chances are always big in IU Coach Amy Berbary’s mind.
“We scored off of three set plays today, and Amy always says that set plays win games,” Jorden said. “If we scrap and get a piece of every ball that we can, it’ll go in the back of the net and we will walk away with three points.”
IU’s second set-piece goal of the day came nine minutes later courtesy of junior midfielder Kylie Kirk. Following a corner kick, Jorden was able to fire a shot from the top of the Wisconsin 18-yard box that flew past goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem and against the crossbar.
The ball then bounced off a Wisconsin defender on the goal line before finding its way to Kirk, who scored on a rebound shot from a tight angle.
“On that second goal, I think we had four different chances to score,” Berbary said. “I can’t even tell you how Kylie was able to score from the angle she had.”
The 2-1 advantage for IU lasted until the game’s 50th minute. Wisconsin senior midfielder Rose Lavelle hammered a shot into the bottom right corner of L’Hommedieu’s goal from about 20 yards out to tie the match, 2-2.
Lavelle’s goal began a brief period of attacking pressure from Wisconsin. Three of the eight shots the Badgers recorded in the match came in the five minutes following Lavelle’s goal.
But as time began to expire in regulation, the Hoosiers made a push to try to win the match. Chances for freshman forward Macy Miller and freshman midfielder Chandra Davidson both went wide of Clem’s goal before Blacha was able to score the decisive goal.
The three goals scored by IU were the most for the team since a 4-2 victory against James Madison on Sept. 11. The win improves IU’s overall record to 5-6-1 with a 2-2 mark in conference play.
“We’re not the same team that we were last year,” Berbary said. “I thought we finally found a way to execute our chances today.”
The victory gives IU six points in conference play after winning its first conference match Sept. 18 at Illinois. Sunday’s win was also the first Big Ten victory for IU at home since Oct. 31, 2014.
The win followed a 3-0 defeat suffered by IU on Friday night against No. 9 Minnesota, although the ability to get points from the weekend is what remains most important to the team.
“Every single game in the Big Ten is going to be competitive,” Jorden said. “We were able to walk away with three points this time.”
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