IU women’s soccer had a strong weekend in Big Ten play, picking up its first two conference wins.
The Hoosiers' victories over an Illinois team that was getting some national attention in the Coaches Poll not two weeks ago, and a Minnesota team that won the Big Ten tournament championship last season, catapulted them into the top eight of the Big Ten.
This season, Big Ten teams have beaten up on each other, as evidenced by only one of the 14 teams remaining undefeated. Penn State and Ohio State were both top four finishers in conference last season but currently sit at records of .500 or worse.
With IU having matches against Penn State and Ohio State this weekend, it will be an opportunity for the Hoosiers to climb higher in the Big Ten.
Here are three things to know ahead of IU’s weekend matches.
Freshman midfielder Avery Lockwood has had her name mentioned a lot in press clippings and by her coach as someone who the program can lean on now and in the future.
Along with having a strong campaign by the numbers, Lockwood has now gotten some national recognition too.
Lockwood was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s team of the week Tuesday for her game-winning goal last Thursday against Illinois, as well as her overall play in the two weekend matches for IU.
Lockwood’s stardom continues to rise, and with it, IU’s conference success.
International Love (of the long pass)
The Hoosiers' win on Sunday hinged on a goal in the 36th minute by senior midfielder Chandra Davidson. Davidson was set up on a pass by sophomore defender Oliwia Wos.
Wos of Olesno, Poland, and Davidson hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, showed off some strong chemistry on the pass that spanned almost three-fourths of the pitch.
It’s a play that head coach Erwin van Bennekom and his team had talked about for a long time. But to actually see it come to fruition could be a game changer for the Hoosier offense.
If the Hoosiers' international stars continue to produce like Lockwood has, the Hoosiers will continue to get enough offense for their stingy defense.
How the mighty fall
IU’s two opponents this week, Penn State and Ohio State, find themselves on relatively unstable ground compared to last season.
The Nittany Lions, last year's regular season Big Ten champs, are only 3-3 in conference to start this year after losing only twice in conference last season. And the Buckeyes, after a third place finish last year, are 2-3 in conference through the first three weekends.
If the postseason started today, IU would find itself seventh in the conference just behind Penn State, good enough for a tournament berth, while Ohio State would be on the outside looking in.
Riding a three-match shutout streak, IU is in good shape to surprise some teams that ruled the Big Ten last season.