IU head coach Erwin van Bennekom summed things up succinctly Thursday, calling IU women’s soccer’s match with Illinois “a tale of two halves."
After being outshot and outplayed by the Illini in the first half, the Hoosiers came out motivated, and thanks to a goal in the 80th minute by freshman midfielder Avery Lockwood, picked up their first Big Ten win of the season.
The goal and win were also the first for the Hoosiers since their 1-0 shutout victory over the University of Kentucky on Sept. 15.
“I think honestly we played one of the worst halves of soccer we’ve played so far in the first half,” van Bennekom said. “Then I think we played one of our better, maybe the best half of soccer in the second half. Really proud of how we responded second half, how we came out how we played with and without the ball.”
In the first half, IU was outshot 8-4 and had trouble maintaining possession for extended periods of time. It was the Hoosiers who had the first chance of the game, thanks to a senior midfielder Chandra Davidson shot off of a corner kick.
The Hoosiers would have a couple more chances on the attack, but they were spread thin by the Illini offensive attack.
The Hoosiers made up for their half of silence on offense with continued strong defensive play, including a save by junior goalkeeper Bethany Kopel in the 45th minute to keep the game scoreless going into the half.
“First half we didn’t start out very well, we were pretty slow and just weren’t so strong with our tackles,” Lockwood said. “We knew we really had to pick it up, and finally second half we started playing like we know we are capable of.”
The Hoosiers mounted a sustained attack on offense that allowed them many opportunities in the attacking third, while keeping Illinois stranded in its own defensive third.
“As a team we got together and decided ‘enough was enough,’ and we had to start playing like we’re capable of,” Lockwood said. “ We just need to bring that to everything we do now just in practice and going forward. We changed our mentality.”
As the game clock wound down to the final ten minutes, IU once again was in danger of being shutout for a fourth straight game.
In the 80th minute, Lockwood teamed up with freshman forward Jacelyn Smith on a run out that turned into the first goal of the game. Smith, in her first action of the season, sent a pass across the box to Lockwood staring down a wide open net.
“We had a lot more offense going (in the second half), so to finally connect with the back of the net was awesome,” Lockwood said.
IU then completed its second consecutive clean sheet as the Hoosiers picked up Big Ten win No. 1.
The Hoosiers return home Sunday for the start of a three game home set with Minnesota up first.
“Desperate teams are dangerous,” van Bennekom said. “We’re gonna prepare for them and be as ready as we can be, and see if we can get this streak going a little bit.”