Indiana Daily Student

Women’s soccer prepares for first taste of conference play in 2018

<p>Sophomore Bethany Kopel blocks a shot against Kansas State on Sept. 9 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The IU women's soccer team was defeated by Purdue on Saturday.</p>

Sophomore Bethany Kopel blocks a shot against Kansas State on Sept. 9 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The IU women's soccer team was defeated by Purdue on Saturday.

The women’s soccer team will wrap up a four-game home stand and begin Big Ten Conference play this week with matches against Michigan and Michigan State. 

At 4-1-2, the Hoosiers are off to their best start in a season since 2013, when they started 8-0-1. 

Last weekend, the team outmatched Kentucky for a 5-1 win on Friday. That was the first time IU put five goals on the scoreboard since that 2013 season. 

The team tried to keep up the momentum on Sunday, putting a season-high 33 shots on the board. However, IU couldn’t come away with a goal, drawing 0-0 with Kansas State.

“We created a ton of chances on Sunday, and everyone could see that in the stats,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “I don’t think it will be a continuous problem for us. Before that, we were scoring two goals a game.”

In her sixth year at the helm in Bloomington, Berbary said she wants the team to work on defending as a unit more than anything else right now. In order to stop Michigan on Thursday, they’ll need to do exactly that.

While IU was pouring five goals on Kentucky last Friday, Michigan’s team was busy thwarting in-state foe Central Michigan. The Wolverines crushed the Chippewas by a score of 6-1.

With their defense playing as well as ever, the Hoosiers will rely on sophomore goalkeeper Bethany Kopel to be a wall in the IU net. As a second-year starter, Kopel said she feels like she’s grown as a player since her first bit of action with the Hoosiers last season.

“I would say I really got comfortable with the team toward the end of last year’s season because I was more confident and into it,” Kopel said. “The seniors and the rest of the team respected me because I showed them what I had. Bringing that confidence into this year made it easy to step back onto the field.”

When Kopel faces Michigan’s hot offense, she’ll be tested by a creative and dynamic front five that is no stranger to scoring. Berbary will be counting on her backline to tighten up a bit, taking weight off the shoulders of Kopel. 

A native of Michigan, Kopel will be squaring off against former club teammates and opponents when the Wolverines and Spartans come to town. 

For Thursday’s match against Michigan, Kopel will be back on the pitch with goalkeepers Izzy Nino and Hillary Beall. Additionally, she has competed with midfielder Nicki Hernandez and forward Taylor Timko.

Martinez, a sophomore from Naperville, Illinois, has been a spark plug for the Michigan offense, scoring 16 points so far this season.

As for the Spartans, Kopel knows freshman goalie Madison Clem. Though Clem does not start, the goalkeeper group for Michigan State has been stellar. Lead by junior Reilley Ott, the Spartans have shutout opponents five times this season. 

“They’ve done a great job of holding teams,” Berbary said about Michigan State. “We’ll have to exploit the gaps that they allow. Their goalkeeper is very good, we’re gonna have to find the right chances and the pockets they give us.”

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