IU women's soccer entered Big Ten play strong, having won three games in a row. Losses to No. 19 Iowa and Nebraska changed that trajectory a bit as the Hoosiers fell to 4-5 on the season and 0-2 in conference.
But it’s a new week, which means a new set of Big Ten opponents. The Hoosiers will travel to Michigan this weekend to take on Michigan State and Michigan.
Here are three things to know ahead of IU’s week two Michigan matchups.
There’s always a good deal of history between IU, MSU and Michigan in just about any sport. In the case of women’s soccer, IU’s fortunes have differed greatly.
Against the Spartans, whom the Hoosiers will face off at 7 p.m. Friday in East Lansing, it has been a one-sided affair.
IU leads the all-time series 17-7-2, including back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018. Last year’s 3-0 win also tied the program record for largest margin of victory over the Spartans.
Against the Wolverines, however, the exact opposite is true. IU’s all-time record against Michigan sits at 5-17-3, and only one of those wins has ever come on the road for the Hoosiers. The one bright spot is that IU was victorious over Michigan last year 3-2, its first win in the series since 2008.
One other thing to note on the team’s disparities is that MSU, like IU, opened up conference play 0-2, while Michigan remains one of three teams to have a perfect start in Big Ten play, along with Purdue, Wisconsin and Illinois.
At any rate, a pair of wins would go a long way in improving the Hoosiers' standing in the Big Ten and boosting overall confidence as a team.
Lockwood locked in
One of the major storylines for the Hoosiers on the pitch has been the play of freshman midfielder Avery Lockwood.
Lockwood has shown that she’s capable of creating open looks for herself and her teammates. It was on display by her three goals which is tied for the team lead with senior forward Chandra Davidson, and an assist on junior midfielder Melanie Forbes’ game winner against Kentucky.
Lockwood also leads the team in shots with 22 after adding four to her total Sunday against Nebraska. The freshman has turned herself into a key cog in the IU offense, and it will need her to shine again this weekend.
Without a goal since Sept. 12th, don’t be too surprised to see Lockwood pressing the issue on offense to ignite what was, for a few games, a very potent attack.
Take care of the ball
One of the Hoosiers' biggest downfalls over the last weekend at home was the propensity for carelessness with the ball.
In their game against Iowa, it was a turnover deep in the defensive third that led to a foul and, ultimately, the penalty kick that proved to be the game winner. A turnover by junior goalie Bethany Kopel turned out to be the difference maker against Nebraska.
The larger point is the Hoosiers will need to clean up those mistakes if they want any chance at picking up a win this weekend, especially against a Michigan team that has won four in a row and picked up 24 votes in this week’s coaches poll.