With a potent Northwestern offense coming to Bloomington to begin Big Ten play, IU could’ve played tentatively to start the conference season.
Instead, the Hoosiers went stride for stride Friday with the Wildcats before falling 2-1.
“It was nice to see our team step up. I think our defense made some great tackles,” IU Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn said. “It was a good, hard fought game by our team, we just let in some quick goals and had some early mistakes but it was nice to see us fight back.”
Both Northwestern and IU came out sloppy with ball control in the first half. The Wildcats’ normally effective offensive attack was stymied by the backline of the Hoosiers, including senior Elle Hempt.
IU stacked more defenders than normal inside the circle to prevent balls from being tipped in.
Northwestern would eventually breakthrough in the 18th minute as star senior Eva van Agt finished to her left off a deflection. Less than two minutes later, van Agt would add another goal, despite a video review by officials.
The Hoosiers kept close in the stat line with Northwestern for a majority of the game. The Wildcats only outshot IU 13-8 and led in penalty corners 7-4.
True freshman Maddie Boehm gave the Hoosiers their lone goal -- the first of her career -- to give IU a late surge of confidence with 10 minutes to go.
“It felt great but it wouldn’t have happened without everyone working so hard to get the ball down there,” Boehm said.
Boehm isn’t IU’s normal go-to player on the attack. In fact, she didn’t even start. But on a day where the heat made substitutions more necessary than usual, Boehm became a spark off the bench for a team that needed as much offense as it could get.
“I think she did a great job to make things happen for us and that’s what we need,” Janney Misselhorn said. “Good hard fought goal where she just used her strength to put that ball in. She’s been working hard so it’s nice to see her finish.”
The end result didn’t favor the Hoosiers, but Hempt said she believes this is only the beginning of the process. After the two early goals from van Agt, the Hoosier backline settled down, allowing just four shots and zero goals in the second half.
“I think knowing we have the ability to shut down such talented attackers, that gives us a lot of confidence going into Big Ten play,” Hempt said.
Going into Sunday’s matchup at Iowa, another top-20 opponent, Janney Misselhorn said she plans to use the impressive defensive showing as a stepping stone for the Hoosiers.
“We’re marking up tighter, we’re playing better defense, but it was frustrating giving up those two early goals because our team really stepped up,” Janney Misselhorn said. “We knew conference play would be tough and our team stepped up, we just need to get more goals.”
IU’s matchup in Iowa City will start at 1:00 p.m. Sunday and will be aired on Big Ten Network as the Hoosiers go for their first conference win of the season.