The IU field hockey team returns home from a three-game road trip to take on No. 9 Michigan and No. 14 Ohio State at the IU Field Hockey Complex.
IU comes off its biggest win of the season so far, a 4-2 win in East Lansing to take down then-No. 23 Michigan State, an effort spearheaded by sophomore forward Hailey Couch’s first half goal trifecta.
Coming off a career performance, Couch said she understands that opposing defenses will focus on her, but she feels confident in the team’s ability going forward.
“I think they’ll put more focus on our forwards because we are having so many different people score, but I really think the forwards have been working hard this week to find new ways to get the ball in the back of the net,” Couch said.
Both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes will bring stout defenses into Bloomington, each having only allowed 10 goals on their respective seasons.
“Halle O’Neill is one of their key players in the back for Michigan, and Ohio State has a solid defense as well.” Couch said. “So we are going to work extra hard and work off each other, and just trust in the game plan.”
O’Neill, a junior back for the Wolverines, gave the Hoosiers trouble last season. She led the Michigan defense to allow only three shots on goal against IU and kept Couch without a shot for the entire game. This season, O’Neill has also contributed offensively, picking up two assists in their most recent win, a 4-0 shutout over Kent State University.
Ohio State’s defense has looked more suspect recently, giving up six combined goals in its last two games against Louisville and Northwestern. To balance out the poor defense, the Buckeyes lead the conference in goals per game, averaging almost four a game.
Ohio State has a trio of players who have six goals each, which individually ties them for second in the conference. Couch, the leading goalscorer for the Hoosiers, has five.
The Hoosiers look to defend their home field and their perfect conference record starting with the Wolverines on Friday and Ohio State on Sunday. The upcoming four-game home stand will have the Hoosiers look to prove their ranked upset over the Spartans was no fluke, but the beginning of a new era under head coach Kayla Bashore.
“Every week, coach gives us objectives to work on, and this week, it is ‘beat Michigan.'" Couch said. "Every drill we have done, every conditioning practice, it's been ‘beat Michigan’, and I think that competitive mentality has been pushing us forward and giving us confidence as we move forward into the other games in the Big Ten."
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