It’s been 23 years since IU women’s soccer defeated Penn State in a regular season match.
They’ll have to wait at least one more after the Hoosiers were shut out 1-0 in their match Thursday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
In a close match for the Hoosiers against last year’s Big Ten champs, they wound up on the losing end for the first time since Sept. 22, thanks to a second half goal.
Coming off a three game shutout streak in which the Hoosiers went 2-0-1 and catapulted themselves into a Big Ten Tournament spot, IU head coach Erwin van Bennekom was disappointed his team could not secure a win.
“Losing is not going to be an option,” van Bennekom said. “The first goal today was to win the game. Not to play well, not to show ourselves well, not to be in the game. It was to win, and we didn’t do that. We’re disappointed even against one of the best teams in the country.”
Van Bennekom did express pride in his team’s effort throughout the match, evident on several occasions as IU put Penn State on its heels on the counter attack.
Arguably the best chance came in the game’s 12th minute. Freshman midfielder Avery Lockwood sprung into the goal box on a nice lead pass. Penn State’s senior goalkeeper Amanda Dennis fell on the ball before Lockwood could get to it, but a collision with Lockwood and a PSU defender jarred the ball free.
Lockwood then passed back to junior midfielder Melanie Forbes, who let a shot go that almost found its way into the net. An athletic recovery by Dennis allowed her to get a finger on the ball and tap it over the net.
With a handful of other chances by the wayside, at half it was an evenly-matched game, with PSU holding a 5-3 shot advantage while the game remained scoreless.
Penn State dominated the play after a flurry of IU pressure early in the second half, as Forbes and freshman midfielder Alaina Kalin fired off shots in rapid succession that missed the net by mere inches.
Penn State finally had a chance go its way on a counter as junior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri set up fellow junior forward Kerry Abello in tight.
Abello lifted a little chip shot over the head of IU junior goalkeeper Bethany Kopel to break the scoreless tie in the 63rd minute.
“One moment there, it was not so much our fault,” van Bennekom said. “It was just their brilliance, quality on the ball. Great goal, great little combination play.”
The Hoosiers did not surrender after the goal, finding a few cracks in the PSU defense and exploiting it for a Davidson chance in the 88th minute.
The shot was soaked up however by Dennis, and despite a corner the Hoosiers could not get the equalizer as time expired.
Despite the loss, IU is very much still in the race for a top-8 finish in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers will focus for now not on series losing streaks but on whoever sits in front of them.
“We’ve got another big game on Sunday, we’ve got another five big games left,” van Bennekom said. “We’re just taking one game at a time. Learn from this one and get on to the next one.”
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