After a season-opening loss against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, IU women’s soccer is seeking its first win when it hosts Rutgers at 1 p.m. Thursday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Rutgers ended IU’s run in the Big Ten Tournament in the Quarterfinals last season with a 0-1 defeat in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers also won last year’s only regular season meeting by the same score.
Rutgers is entering Thursday’s match 1-0, with a 3-2 win over reigning conference champion Penn State in its season opener. The Hoosiers see the Scarlet Knights as a challenge for the Hoosiers, but also as an opportunity to grab a crucial win, senior defender Hanna Németh said.
“Penn State has been one of the strongest teams in the league, if not the strongest for the past couple years,” Németh said. “We know that [Rutgers] will be eager to go 2-0. We know that if they can beat Penn State, they can beat us as well, but we’ll be there to challenge that.”
While last Saturday ended in disappointment, the Hoosiers are excited to see how they stack up against a team head coach Erwin van Bennekom said is among the Big Ten’s best.
“Rutgers are one of the top teams in our league,” van Bennekom said. “We’re excited to measure ourselves with them on our home field. It should be a great day and we’re excited for it.”
Thursday’s match will be the first at Bill Armstrong Stadium since it underwent renovations last year to replace the north grandstand and the locker rooms. The locker rooms at the stadium were previously only used on game days, with the team’s main locker room in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“I’m so excited for our team, with the facility being done and having their own locker room, and the field crew has done an amazing job,” said van Bennekom. “We’re so excited to have a proper soccer day again.”
Until earlier in the week, the team was unsure if the game would be played in Bloomington or indoors at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, because of snow. After playing at Grand Park against Northwestern, the Hoosiers are heading back outside in what is predicted to be a beautiful afternoon.
“We’re so happy that the weather is so nice and that allows us to play outside in the stadium,” said Németh. “It’s an amazing facility for us.”