IU women’s soccer finds itself one game over .500 and riding a three-game winning streak almost a month into its first season under head coach Erwin van Bennekom.
But now a new, more challenging season begins Friday as the Hoosiers begin Big Ten conference play against the 19th-ranked University of Iowa.
Iowa comes in undefeated with a perfect 8-0 record through its first month of the season. That hot start has turned into a spot on the United Soccer Coaches Poll Top 25 for the first time earlier this week.
Here are three things to know about Friday’s conference matchup between the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers.
What a difference a year makes
When these teams last met Sept. 23, 2018, the Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 3-1 in Iowa City, Iowa, improving to 5-4-2 while the Hoosiers fell to 6-3-2.
The teams finished 2018 with almost identical records (Iowa 8-7-3; IU 8-8-2), but this year seems to be a different story. The Hawkeyes’ eight wins in 2019 already have them at their win total from last season.
Even if they match their conference win total from last season (4-5-2), they would finish the season with 12 wins, an impressive four-win improvement.
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers have surpassed their nonconference win total from last season thanks to a three-game win streak but fizzled out in the Big Ten last year, winning just two of their final nine games.
A win over a successful Iowa squad would be a good starting point for the Hoosiers to reverse their conference misfortunes.
Slowing the Hawkeyes’ roll
A good deal of the Hoosiers' success of late has been their ability to build from the back end and sustain constant offensive pressure, resulting in a vast 58-13 shot advantage over their last three games.
They’ll be put to the test against an Iowa team that has lit up the offensive categories. The Hawkeyes have scored 25 goals and are averaging 3.13 goals per game. Last year the Hawkeyes managed to score only 20 goals the whole season.
Couple this with the fact that Iowa is getting 18 shots per game on average and there is little time for Hawkeye opponents to get anything generated on offense.
The good news for IU, having only scored 10 goals itself this year, is that they have dealt with ball-dominant teams this year and held its own.
Against the University of North Carolina they managed one shot but hung tough with the then-No. 2 team. Coupled with close games against University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, IU has shown it can compete with elite opponents.
Unleash the youth movement
IU’s freshmen have made solid first impressions in their first month of college play. Forward Jaimie Tottleben and midfielder Alaina Kalin each have a goal and an assist, while midfielder Avery Lockwood is in a tie for the team lead with three goals.
Freshman midfielder Bria Telemaque hasn’t cracked the score sheet yet but has claimed a spot in the starting lineup the last four games and has shown some impressive ball handling that suggests an offensive breakout is due.
Sophomore defenders Megan Wampler and Maddie Carlson have been part of an impressive back line that has surrendered just one goal in their last three games.
The youth have played well and will need to do so again if the Hoosiers want a chance to upset Iowa on Friday night.