There was a bit of optimism in IU Coach Amy Berbary’s voice when talking about how her team fared in the 2017 season.
The Hoosiers finished 6-9-4 after a 2-1 loss to No. 9 Ohio State on Oct. 25 to finish out the season.
IU finished in 11th place in the Big Ten, three places away from a Big Ten Tournament berth.
“If I had to describe the season, I’d say it was very inconsistent,” Berbary said. “I thought we were up and down quite a bit. The season caught up with us a bit physically. I’m really proud of the team and our fight. You look at some of the teams that are still there, and we hung in with them. We just have to find someone who can consistently score goals.”
On several occasions, the main reason IU couldn’t put games away was because of a lack of offensive ability. There were flashes of potential for IU to score multiple goals, but IU often just tried to grind out a 1-0 win.
“We need more from our frontrunners,” Berbary said. “I think we’re going to put a little bit of oneness on the players individually outside of us. If I had to be frank, I think a lot of our players don’t do enough on their own and only rely on what they do at training.”
Despite the struggles on the offensive side of the ball, there were two players who shouldered the load and emerged as top goal-scorers for the Hoosiers.
Junior forward Maya Piper led IU with seven goals and two assists, while sophomore midfielder Chandra Davidson wasn’t too far behind with six goals and two assists.
“Maya Piper. I think that’s what we’ve known she was capable of. But this year, for her to be able to start 17 of the 19 games and to get it done was huge,” Berbary said. “Chandra Davidson as well, playing a ton of minutes for us in multiple positions, was just absolutely fantastic for us.”
The Hoosiers were able to hang their hat on a stout defense that came through in games. With the offensive struggles, IU had almost no choice but to stop the other team from scoring.
“We pride ourselves on defending,” Berbary said. “We talk about how we defend to attack from the back to front. I thought all the kids who stepped in through the year did a very good job. I thought our total team defending and pressing was very good.”
Freshman goalkeeper Bethany Kopel was the anchor for the IU defense throughout the season. When asked about her freshman goalie, Berbary had nothing but praise.
Kopel played all of the nearly 1,800 minutes of the season in goal for the Hoosiers. She ranked third in total saves in the Big Ten with 96. The Oct. 17 Big Ten Freshman of the Week also recorded five shutouts on the season, including a 12-save performance against Iowa.
“It was unbelievable,” Berbary said. “I think the best decision she ever made was coming to college six months early to train and win the spot to be our goalkeeper as a freshman. I think her mentality and her own desire within to get better helped her become the player that she is.”
Despite the disappointing finish, there is a lot Berbary is looking forward to next season. She will return 22 of the 23 goals scored next season after only losing two seniors, midfielders Kayla Smith and Kylie Kirk.
With another season under their belt, there’s nothing to do now but move forward for the Hoosiers.