The IU women’s soccer team has been turning heads in the Big Ten. With a tough non-conference schedule, the Hoosiers have faced adversity from weather, travel and talented teams en route to a 3-1-1 start to their season.
In their final two games before Big Ten play begins, IU played Kentucky and Kansas State at home this weekend. Rain was a factor from kickoff through the final buzzer of both games, but lightning was nowhere to be found and there were no delays this weekend.
IU opened the weekend against Kentucky on Friday. After UK started their season with three straight wins, the Wildcats went spiraling, losing three consecutive matches. At 3-3, UK was eyeing to get back into the win column against the red hot Hoosiers.
The first half was relatively quiet until senior defender Caroline Dreher opened up the scoring in the 17th minute with an olympico-style goal from the corner. Minutes later, Chandra Davidson beat a defender and rifled a shot at the goalie before Abby Allen cleaned up the rebound for her fifth goal of the year.
Junior midfielder Allison Jorden later pounced on a ball for a goal in the closing minutes of the half to extend IU’s lead to 3-0.
Kentucky got on the board early in the second half, but IU answered right back in a big way. Senior Annellie Leitner received a nice pass and sent a highlight-reel laser into the back of the net from 27 yards out.
“She’s a great player, and she loves soccer,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said about Leitner. “She’s done it internationally and at every level possible. I think that finally caught up with her and she’s really been able to help out our team.”
The fifth-year senior from Austria was coming off the heels of a weekend performance that earned her Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. The forward scored game-winning goals against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount last week.
The Hoosiers added one more to their tally with 11 minutes left to push the final score to 5-1. It was the first time the team scored five goals in a game since 2013.
“I think we have really made it a point in contention to get our offense firing and I can’t say enough about it,” Berbary said. “To have five different goal scorers today was great. We’ve really been working on it, and they’ve taken pride in doing that.”
Sunday’s match was destined to play out differently. In the third year of their program’s existence, Kansas State has been rock solid on defense. Entering Sunday’s contest with a record of 3-2-1, the Wildcats had shutout four of their first six opponents.
In the first half of play, both teams traded some of their best scoring chances of the game, but nobody could bury the ball in the goal.
Kansas State’s goalie misplayed a ball off the post, but IU could not capitalize. Then a Wildcat defender nearly headed a ball into her own net, but the ball rolled wide of the goal.
The dynamic of the game carried into the second half, but by the time the regulation horn sounded, the 0-0 scoreboard indicated that both teams were beating themselves. Open-net chances were missed on both ends of the field, so the match went to overtime.
Both offenses started to step on the gas pedal a bit in the extra frame of action, but so did the goalies. Clutch saves from sophomore Bethany Kopel and Kansas State’s Emma Malsy prevailed the double-ended shutout, a 0-0 draw.
With 33 shots recorded, the Hoosiers shattered their season high in a game, but they couldn’t register a goal on Sunday.
“I think the team is in a really good place,” Berbary said. “Staff and players are disappointed in the result, but we didn’t lose the game. Our only loss has been against a ranked team so we just need to keep pushing forward and growing as a unit.”
At 4-2-1, the Hoosiers will kick off their Big Ten schedule this Thursday from Bill Armstrong Stadium when a 4-3 Michigan team comes to town.