IU begins its eight-game conference slate Friday when it takes on No. 25 Michigan State. The Hoosiers and Spartans are two much-improved teams from a year ago, and both are looking for a statement win to open up their conference seasons.
Michigan State has lost its last 11 regular season conference games, and its last win was a 3-2 defeat of IU back in 2017.
However, Michigan State is 4-2 this season and has stayed competitive in all of its games, including a win over a Miami University team that beat IU early in the season. The Spartans also got the best of the Hoosiers in their last matchup, a 3-2 overtime victory that ended the Hoosiers' season.
Junior forward Meredith Ross, who scored the game-tying goal for the Spartans, returns to the team and currently has one goal this season.
The Spartans’ leading scorer this year is junior forward Lia Sinisi, who stepped into the role after coming off the bench each of her first two years. Another new face for the Spartans is goalkeeper Jade Arundell, who has allowed nine goals in six games.
Arundell is vital to the Spartans success this season due to the high volume of shots they allow. Michigan State only allows 1.5 goals per game but has allowed 17.7 shots per game. To be successful against a goalkeeper with those numbers, the offense will have to be organized on the attack and have solid passing to create opportunities on goal.
IU should look to draw as many penalty corners as possible. Michigan State has conceded 39 corners in its six games, and corners have also been vital to the IU offense this year. The team creates opportunities such as senior midfielder Sheridan Weiss’ game winner against Drexel in the home opener.
IU head coach Kayla Bashore has said her main focus has been to adequately prepare her team for the Big Ten season with a tough nonconference schedule. Now is the time for the Hoosiers to show up and produce results in the Big Ten against a ranked opponent.
Michigan State provides arguably the easiest test they will see in the Big Ten all season, and the momentum an IU victory would provide the team, which historically has struggled in the conference, cannot be overstated.