At this point in the season, every weekend is crucial for the IU field hockey team.
IU's matches in upcoming weekends became even more important after last Sunday’s outing resulted in a 5-0 defeat at Miami University.
The Hoosiers will travel to No. 23 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan this weekend. In total, all four of IU's opening Big Ten Conference matches will have been against ranked foes.
Friday's match against Ohio State will provide IU with both a regional battle and a must-win game.
“We’re excited to play Ohio State on Friday,” IU Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn said. “We have a good history with them, kind of back and forth the past couple of years. I think there’s a great rivalry there with some of our players, and I’m excited to see how the game goes on Friday.”
Senior Nora Aucker said she knows IU’s overall record of 2-7 is not ideal. This weekend will be crucial for IU in the realm of Big Ten positioning and the season overall, which means a high level of energy is key.
“We’ve had a really good week of practice so far,” Aucker said. “Really high energy, high paced. We’re working on good patterns and making sure we’re connecting through the lines.”
After returning home from Miami, Ohio, IU has zoned in on improving specific aspects of the offensive attack. The Hoosiers once again struggled to put the ball in the back of the net Sunday.
IU has been shutout in its last two matches, but Janney Misselhorn said she believes the Hoosiers are close to breaking through. If they do, she said that will give them the momentum boost they need.
“Our players really step up with Big Ten competition,” Janney Misselhorn said. “Right now we just need to score goals. Our team really thrives on momentum and once we get something on the board, it will change the game for us, so it’s important that we score early this weekend.”
Putting together long stretches of good hockey has been hard for the Hoosiers this season. Getting consistent streams will be important as IU looks to get back on track.
“We need to play a full 70-minute game," Aucker said. "Sometimes we have down moments in the middle of the game and that really kill us."
Janney Misselhorn doesn’t believe the scoreboard has always been an accurate representation of IU's level of play. A wealth of players will need to play well and step up if the Hoosiers are to knock off two ranked teams.
“Our team is playing good hockey right now,” Janney Misselhorn said. “We’re looking forward to the Big Ten games this weekend. I think we’re all still working on different position combinations. We’re looking for different players to step up and produce this weekend.”
IU’s game Friday in Columbus, Ohio, will start at 4 p.m. while Sunday’s affair against Michigan will be at 1 p.m.