Following its shocking defeat of Michigan with a late two-goal comeback Thursday night, the women’s soccer team returned Sunday afternoon to Bill Armstrong Stadium to defeat Michigan State.
With two wins to open conference play, the Hoosiers' record now stands at 6-1-2 — matching the team's win total of last season.
“This group has quite an amount of grit and energy," IU Coach Amy Berbary said. "Obviously winning becomes a habit, so they’ve gained more confidence in training because we’re getting results.”
This is the best start to a season for the Hoosiers since Berbary's first season in 2013. That year, the team started out 9-0-1 before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
In the eighth minute of action against the Spartans, IU struck first with a goal from senior forward Maya Piper. Mykayla Brown passed the ball into Chandra Davidson, whose shot hit off the crossbar.
Piper was there, however, to bury it for the Hoosiers.
Twelve minutes later, sophomore midfielder Melanie Forbes dashed into the box and bent a ball around Michigan State’s Reilly Ott for her sixth point of the season. Coming off the bench this weekend, Forbes additionally recorded two assists in Thursday’s win over Michigan.
From the end of their win against Kentucky through part of the nail-biter against Michigan, the Hoosiers endured a 206-minute dry spell stretch without a goal.
But since the end of regulation against the Wolverines, IU’s offense has been electric.
“I called on our offense to be a little more dynamic and mobile,” Berbary said. “We’ve been working incredibly hard with our front five, and I think we just showed again that we can score from all different areas with different people.”
The Hoosiers added one more goal in the second half. Senior defender Caroline Dreher regained possession and launched a ball perfectly over Ott’s head from about 35 yards out for her second goal of the season.
Dreher and the rest of the backline continued to progress on defense as they have been all season. Graduate transfer Claudia Day stepped up to make another big save in relief of sophomore goalie Bethany Kopel, who misjudged a deep ball that bounced over her head and almost rolled past the goal line.
“Breakdowns always happen, even if we are playing the best of our games,” Kopel said. “You’ve got to be prepared whenever because of headers in the box and those little moments that you can’t control.”
IU went on to preserve the shutout win, its third game this season not allowing any goals. The last time the Hoosiers won their first two games of Big Ten play was in 2007, when the team finished 13-7-3.
Not having been able to finish above .500 in conference play since 2013, IU has made it clear that this year’s squad is no fluke.
With just nine more games left until the Big Ten Tournament, the Hoosiers are on the cusp of a special season.