Four points outside of a conference tournament spot, the IU women’s soccer team needed to win out this weekend to stay in the conversation for a post-season berth.
IU played host to No. 21 Penn State on Thursday night for its final home game of the season.
Ahead of the game, the Hoosiers led the conference in goals scored with 31.
The Nittany Lions' 10 goals allowed on the season was the lowest total among all Big Ten teams. In a battle of the conference's best offense and defense, the defense prevailed.
Penn State’s 4-1 win over IU extended its winning streak to six games. At 12-5, the Nittany Lions now hold at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. The loss eliminated the Hoosiers from conference tournament contention.
In the process, Penn State’s offense leapfrogged IU’s in the conference goal standings. The Hoosiers' 32 goals is now second to the Nittany Lions, who have 34.
“It’s just hard to swallow right now,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “We’ve had 11 different people score this year, second-best offense in the Big Ten, and we’re going to be sitting at home for the tournament.”
Penn State controlled the tempo early on, but IU’s defense disrupted its passing game. However, senior midfielder Emily Ogle took advantage of a penalty shot in the 22nd minute, giving the Nittany Lions the early 1-0 lead.
When scoring the first goal, Penn State is now 9-0-0 this season. Eight of those nine wins were shutouts.
Pushing for an equalizer, senior forward Abby Allen stepped up for IU. After missing her first two shots of the evening, the senior sent in a rocket off her left foot for team-leading eighth goal this season. Allen’s 23 points scored is tied for second in the conference this season.
After scoring her first goal in five games, the senior said she was more than happy to score once more at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
“I don’t know if it has fully hit me yet that I won’t play on this field again,” Allen said. “It felt good to finally put one away and tie it up, but it’s unfortunate we couldn’t put any more away.”
Ogle scored another goal to give Penn State a 2-1 lead. Senior forward Mykayla Brown thought she had a game-tying goal off a feed from sophomore Melanie Forbes in the closing minutes of the first half, but a late offsides call took it off the scoreboard.
The Hoosiers had their chances to get back in the game, but none stood out more than the second controversial call of the game. IU’s offense drove into the box, and a Nittany Lions defender fell down on the ball. The crowd wanted a hand ball, but the referee's call was to play on.
Without the benefit of a penalty, the Hoosiers went without a shot that possession. Penn State proceeded to zoom downfield, and sophomore forward Frankie Tagliaferri scored a fastbreak goal to give them a 3-1 lead.
“That was a huge call,” Berbary said. “If we get it to 2-2, we’re rolling. Another controversial call down at the other end, they score right off of that. I think we could have been a bit better defensively, but we gave ourselves chances.”
The Nittany Lions tacked on another goal in the 78th minute, putting the game away. The IU loss confirmed its season would not see more action past this weekend. The Hoosiers will travel to Maryland for their final game of the 2018 campaign.
“Maryland’s going to have a lot to handle on Sunday,” Berbary said.
Thursday was an emotional night for the eight IU seniors who played their final game at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Their coach spoke positively about the future of the program, despite the heartbreaking loss.
“They’ve been an unbelievable part of building this culture, and I told them we’re on a good path here and they’ve helped because they’re such good kids,” Berbary said. “They believed in the vision when I recruited them when I got this job. Those kids mean so much to me.”
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