After a long stretch on the road, IU field hockey will finally return to Bloomington this weekend. The Hoosiers come in faltering as of late, dropping five straight including losses to No. 6 Michigan and No. 23 Ohio State last weekend.
Even after a weekend in which IU was outscored 7-1, IU Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn was still impressed with some key stretches of play that the Hoosiers had.
“We had some really high moments from some players,” Janney Misselhorn said. “Scoring against Michigan in the first few minutes was fantastic for us. We’ve been talking about scoring in the first handful of minutes, and we were grateful we had the ability to do that in the first few minutes against a quality team.”
Senior Taylor Swope helps form a midfield that struggled at times the past weekend. After getting out to a 1-0 lead over Michigan, the IU defense was torched for six straight goals. IU turned up the intensity on defense, which Swope believes will help in the long run.
“We did a lot better job executing on our press and we had our good moments over the weekend,” Swope said. “I think just having those moments for 70 minutes is important heading into this weekend.”
One consistent struggle this season for the Hoosiers has been with the ability to score goals. Outside of the wins over Ball State and St. Francis, IU has gone long periods of time without goals and even some long stretches without recording shots.
The Hoosiers will host Michigan State and St. Louis this weekend. If IU is to turn the tide, the goals will have to come early and often.
“We just need to finish, get more shots on goals,” junior Ciara Girouard said. “Just working on the little things and making every play count.”
The Spartans come to Bloomington with a winless conference slate as well. Both IU and MSU have been victims to the strength of the Big Ten. This game will likely decide who gets to host the No. 8 vs No. 9 matchup for the conference tournament in two weeks.
“It’s important that we don’t take it lightly,” Swope said. “We just need to play how we’ll play against any other conference team, connecting throughout the whole 70 minutes and getting goals on the board.”
Janney Misselhorn doesn’t dismiss what the scoreboard has said over the past few weeks, but does acknowledge the level of play her team has been at. While the wins haven’t been coming, she feels like the level of play has been at one that can compete with the conference elite.
“Confidence is a huge piece heading into this weekend,” Janney Misselhorn said. “They’re hustling, and they're working hard. It’s frustrating because we’re not getting the good results on the scoreboard, but there’s a lot of good moments out there.”
Girouard scored the only goal for IU this past weekend when she completed on a penalty corner early against Michigan on Sunday. While IU would ultimately fall short, Girouard said she knows her team has the confidence and talent to eventually breakthrough.
“If we can score against the sixth team in the nation, we can score against anybody,” Girouard said. “Just bringing that confidence in, we’re skilled, we just need to execute.”
IU will get things started against Michigan State at 3 p.m. Friday at the IU Field Hockey Complex. IU will wrap up the weekend with a non-conference tilt against St. Louis at noon on Sunday.