Of all the outcomes that would have meant the end of the season for IU women’s soccer, a first-half own goal seemed most unlikely.
That’s exactly what played out in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, as seventh seeded IU lost 1-0 to second- seeded Rutgers. The loss ended the Hoosiers' season at 8-9-2.
The Hoosiers at times dominated possession and looked like the better team, but the efforts rarely resulted in anything on the scoreboard, while the Scarlet Knights' burst of pressure forced the Hoosiers to make a costly mistake with the ball.
It was still mostly a battle of defenses in the first 15 minutes of the match spent with each side alternating possession at midfield. The Hoosiers' best chance of the half came in the sixth minute, as IU senior defender Meghan Scott got off what would be their only shot of the half.
Rutgers managed a couple of inconsequential shots before junior Nneka Moneme got a great look in the 29th minute from right in front of the net that sailed over the crossbar.
The attack seemed to catch the Hoosiers off guard, and less than a minute later RU’s senior midfielder Taylor Almer, who set up Monome the play before, sent a cross on net that found the foot of IU sophomore defender Madeline Carlson.
Carlson appeared to be trying for a clear of the ball to force a corner kick, but instead struck the ball into the back of her own net.
Though there were still 15 minutes to be played in the half, and over 60 in the game, the mistake felt like a back breaker for IU, especially against a Rutgers team that surrendered only 11 goals all season.
IU was forced to turn up the pressure in the second half, and despite getting off five shots in the half it never got a single one on goal.
Rutgers' final line of defense proved too strong, even on a couple of late corners for IU that got right on net before Rutger clearances.
The Hoosiers have only next season to look forward to, with their first under head coach Erwin van Bennekom a success marked by their return to the tournament since 2016.
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