In its first match in 475 days, IU women’s soccer dropped the season opener to Northwestern 1-0 on Saturday night at Ryan Fieldhouse in Evanston, Illinois.
The teams kept pace with each other for most of the match, trading fouls with momentum swinging back and forth. While the Hoosiers had opportunities to score all night long, they failed to find the back of the net on any of their six shots. For the first 85 minutes, the teams were locked at 0-0.
“I think it was an even game all the way through. Physically, we competed well, I think we won a lot of duels and got away with the ball well,” head coach Erwin van Bennekom said. “I thought in the second half we controlled the tempo a little bit more, and I thought we had a little better possession higher in the field.”
In the 85th minute of the match, the tie broke. Northwestern sophomore Aurea Martin scored her second career goal, set up by a foul on IU freshman midfielder Sofia Black.
“We gave up probably a sloppy foul at top of the box, and they punished us for it as well,” van Bennekom said. “So credit to them, and credit to them for pulling it out. I thought we deserved probably a little bit more.”
In the final five minutes, IU tried to push the ball downfield for an equalizing goal, but was ultimately thwarted by tough Northwestern defense along the sidelines, preventing any opportunity at a final shot.
“After they scored, we kind of got in this jam on the sideline, where we couldn’t really get off the sideline. We just kept giving them throws,” sophomore midfielder Avery Lockwood said. “That kind of hurt our momentum.”
The team will play Rutgers at 1 p.m. Thursday at home, a rematch against the team that ended the Hoosiers 2019 campaign in the Big Ten Tournament. Rutgers is coming off of a win over reigning conference champions Penn State.
“Proud of the team, tough result,” van Bennekom said. “We’ll learn from it. We’ll probably learn the most from the sting of losing this game.”
Headed home with a loss, the Hoosiers are confident that they can get back on track Thursday, with lessons from losing serving as a key to victory, Lockwood said.
“I feel like we can take a lot of lessons from this, and just keep moving forward. We’re getting more into a groove and shaking off all the rust,” Lockwood said. “This loss really stings, but you don’t get to really ponder on it too long. I’m excited for the next one.”