IU women’s soccer is coming off another almost weeklong layoff, but this time off the back of a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Murray State University on the road this past Friday.
The Hoosiers set their sights now on an undefeated University of Louisville team as they begin a stretch of games twice a week until the end of the season. With less practice time available, IU will have to begin making adjustments on the fly as they dive deeper into the season.
But another early season game against a talented and tough non-conference foe in Louisville will serve as a test to see what adjustments have been made in yet another week of practice. Here are three key things to know about the Hoosiers upcoming match at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Louisville .
Getting the ball on net, but not quite in it
One of the biggest issues in the early going for IU has been the lack of goal scoring. Although two goals through three games is not ideal, it would be livable if not for the fact that the Hoosiers have surrendered five goals through their first three games.
It's certainly not a result of minimal opportunities. IU outpaces its opponents in several key offensive categories. The Hoosiers have already taken 15 corner kicks while surrendering just 10. Further, IU has only four fewer shots than their opponents (28 to 32) but have a higher percentage of shots on net (.536 vs .469).
The Hoosiers are a young team still trying to figure out a new scheme that has focused on defense thus far.
Lights-out net minding for Louisville
The Hoosiers' scoring woes may not get any better, at least not Thursday. Louisville, in addition to being perfect on the season, has been near unflappable in net.
Their last three games have all been shutout victories, and the lone goal the Cardinals have allowed all season came in the 18th minute of their season-opener against Ohio State on Aug. 22.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Gabby Kouzelos has started all four games and holds a 3-0 record to go along with six saves.
It helps as well that the Cardinals have allowed only 18 shots, seven of which have been on goal.
Best defense wins
The Hoosiers, despite allowing five goals through three games, have actually been quite solid on defense. IU head coach Erwin van Bennekom has built this season’s team around protecting the net, which has been the focal point of their off-season work.
With an outlier in the numbers because of the season opener against then No. 2 University of North Carolina, the Hoosiers have done a good job slowing their opponents down in the defensive third. But Thursday’s match could provide a different challenge.
The Cardinals come in with 68 shots through four games, and a whopping 2.75 goals per game average. As mentioned above, the Cardinals themselves do not give up much on defense, so this game will go to the team who can hold off the other's offense the longest.