On a cloudy day in Bloomington Sunday, IU women’s soccer shined on the pitch, picking up its third straight shutout and the second consecutive Big Ten win.
A first half goal by senior midfielder Chandra Davidson gave the Hoosiers a lead they wouldn't lose, handing Minnesota its fourth conference loss in six matches.
Both of the Hoosiers' wins against Big Ten opponents have come by narrow 1-0 margins, but for IU head coach Erwin van Bennekom, that’s just fine.
“We know that we have our defensive shape and defensive organization," van Bennekom said. "If we go 1-nil up, teams will have a hard time getting back in the game."
Junior midfielder Melanie Forbes sent a cross through the penalty box for Davidson, but the pass was intercepted by a Gopher defender. Six minutes later, Davidson had a free run at the goal, but before she could settle a pass down, Minnesota’s junior goalie Maddie Nielsen came out to cover the ball.
In the 30th minute, sophomore defender Oliwia Wos sent a free kick from outside the penalty box directly on goal. It would be a precursor of things to come, when not six minutes later she sent a pass from the Hoosiers side of the center circle into the box for Davidson.
Davidson played the pass on a bounce and sent it past a lunging keeper for the Hoosiers' first goal. It was the fourth on the season for Davidson and also her first in Big Ten play.
“Great ball from Oliwia," van Bennekom said. "We’ve been talking about that pass and that run so many times. Really happy for Channy to score that goal. I think she needed that, she’s been working so hard and getting so close.”
With the lead at half, IU was able to focus in on its defensive approach even more in the second half, and in a way it became crucial to holding on for the victory.
The Gophers outshot IU 5-1 in the half and controlled the ball in the attacking third for most of the half.
However, the Hoosiers' strong defense only allowed one serious threat in the 70th minute, when Minnesota got off two shots within 30 seconds of each other, however both were saved by junior goalkeeper Bethany Kopel.
“Organization," Wos said. "Stepping to the ball and just communication. Without communication you can’t do anything, it's the key on the back line."
The win put the Hoosiers at 2-2-1 in conference and at 6-5-1 a game over .500 for the season.
“We’ll see if we can keep climbing in the standings,” van Bennekom said. “Everybody’s beating each other, and we’re right in the mix of things.”