Coming off a 1-1 tie against the University of Notre Dame last Sunday, IU women's soccer returned with a victory Thursday evening in an 8 p.m. matchup against the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks.
Entering the match, IU hadn’t conceded a goal through 200 minutes of regular-season play through two games. In Erwin van Bennekom's three-year tenure at IU, the Hoosiers are undefeated in the first match after the start of the fall semester.
Much of IU’s offensive intensity in the first half shifted to a defensive focus in the second half. Gerstenberg maintained a perfect save percentage on four shots in an otherwise quiet second half, leading IU to a 1-0 victory over the Skyhawks.
"Until the weather delay, we were pretty poor, but after the delay, I think we were the dominant team," van Bennekom."It was probably unfortunate not to put the game away earlier, but we scored one more than them, and that's all we want to do.”
Thursday's game was originally scheduled at 7 p.m., but was delayed by an hour earlier in the day as a precautionary measure against heat. The game was delayed for another half hour due to lightning strikes near Bill Armstrong Stadium. After 36 minutes, the game resumed just after 9:30 p.m.
IU exited the weather delay with a vengeance. The Hooseirs dominated possession with sophomore forwards Anna Bennett and Jen Blitchok, as well as senior defender Oliwa Wos all having scoring chances near the midpoint of the half.
Junior midfielder Avery Lockwood knocked in her first goal of the year, giving IU a 1-0 lead.
Much of IU's stretch of scoreless minutes so far can be attributed to the success of freshman goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg, who saved seven shots over the Hoosiers’ first two games. She only faced one shot in the first 45 minutes of play Thursday evening.
After the team’s match against Notre Dame last Sunday, van Bennekom voiced concern about how the start of the fall 2021 semester could have an effect on his team's play entering Thursday night.
“Preseason was fun, everyone has all the time in the world. Now with classes starting, it becomes a little different story," van Bennekom said. “Now the real stress comes.”
Van Bennekom expressed his content about IU’s third-straight match without conceding a goal, attributing the team's defensive success to being organized and prepared for transitions.
IU's next game is against the University of Memphis Sunday at 2 p.m. in Memphis, Tennessee.