At 6-4-2, the women’s soccer team will have a pair of home games this weekend. The Hoosiers will play host to Penn State on Oct. 18, but this week’s match against Minnesota is the team’s final home game on a Sunday.
Since its a Sunday, which makes it easier for family and friends to attend, Senior Day festivities will take place.
“My time as a Hoosier has been one of the best times of my life,” senior defender Caroline Dreher said. “I can’t believe we’re already seniors. I just picture all the Senior Days we’ve had in the past with the older girls crossing the field. I always thought that was so far away, but now we’re doing it.”
IU Coach Amy Berbary said she has a lot of pride in this year’s senior class. Over the last four years, Berbary has watched these eight seniors grow and evolve into “90-minute players.”
“This senior class has really contributed to the culture of our program,” Berbary said. “They are the epitome of student athletes. They’re fantastic in the classroom, they’re unbelievable people and great leaders that have helped drive this team.”
The eight seniors are comprised of five true seniors, two redshirts and a graduate student transfer. All but one of them have solidified themselves as everyday starters this season.
The senior class’ leadership was a big part of the team’s 6-1-2 start, but the team has since lost three straight games to fall below .500 in conference play. Playing at home for the first time in three weeks, the Hoosiers have a chance to get back into the mix in the Big Ten.
Friday’s match against Wisconsin will be a bit of a challenge for IU. The Badgers started the season 7-1-1 and have since cooled off to a still-impressive 8-2-3 record. Sophomore forwards Lauren Rice and Cameron Murtha have lead the way for Wisconsin with 10 and eight points, respectively, on the season.
The Badgers defense and goaltending has been key to their success. In 13 games, the team has allowed just 11 goals. IU has been averaging 2.17 goals per game this season, but Berbary said she knows that Wisconsin’s defense is incredible under pressure.
“Wisconsin is a very organized team,” Berbary said. “They play a system that doesn’t allow you to get into the attacking third. We just need to make sure we take advantages of the chances we get. Obviously, we have a dynamic attack we just need to get it going early.”
As for Minnesota, their 7-5-1 record doesn't speak like Wisconsin’s does. Their experience against three top-25 opponents, however, has turned the Golden Gophers into a team that’s always a threat to score.
“Minnesota is always resilient,” Berbary said. “They never quit, that’s one thing we always make a point of. Our backs are going to have to be extremely good individually and then we’ll have to keep our lines tight so they are not splitting us.”
When the Golden Gophers squared off against a top-ranked Stanford team during nonconference play, Minnesota nearly upended the No. 1 team in the nation, falling 2-1 in overtime. Two weeks later, the Golden Gophers shutout a 12th-ranked Northwestern 2-0 at home.
Minnesota has the ability to score goals in big-time games, but the Hoosier defenders are up to the task.
“In the Purdue game we really played to our identity as a backline and we’re looking to continue that this weekend,” Dreher said. “I would love to come out with a win on Sunday because we need to get some wins to make it into the tournament, but to do it on Senior Day would mean that much more.”