On a balmy Thursday evening in Bloomington, Erwin van Bennekom began his third season at the helm of the IU women’s soccer team with a weekday tilt against in-state foe Valparaiso University.
After a 6-5-1 campaign in the spring of 2021, the Hoosiers are looking to build on the momentum generated during the best stretch of IU soccer since 2013.
IU’s starting XI featured junior midfielder Avery Lockwood and freshman goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg, who were both featured on the Big Ten Conference’s Preseason Players to Watch List. While both played well in the Hoosier’s opening night, the real fireworks came off the bench.
In the Thursday night game, van Bennekom sent for six substitutions throughout the first half of the contest. The subs began at the sixteenth minute when freshman forward Jordyn Levy entered the game for senior Melanie Forbes.
After the Levy substitution, van Bennekom called for six more substitutions before the end of the half. Despite the strategy deployed by the Hoosiers, IU ended the first half tied 0-0 with Valparaiso.
However, the scoreless goal total in the first 45 minutes did not accurately represent the statline. In the first half, the Hoosiers had eight shots and nine corner kicks compared to the Beacons’ singular shot and corner kick.
No matter how many shots or corners were totaled on the Jerry Yeagley Field scoreboard, corner kicks and shots alone don’t win soccer matches. So van Bennekom brought his team back out for the second half looking to break the tie.
Despite the aggressive nature of the play of the likes of Levy, junior midfielder Paige Webber and sophomore midfielder Sofia Black, IU remained scoreless much of the second half of play. Then, after nine more corner kicks and 70 minutes of play, Levy ended the scoreless drought with a tap-in, redirect goal past Valparaiso goaltender Nikki Coryell.
The first goal of IU women’s soccer’s 2021 campaign was enough to lead the Hoosiers to their first victory of the season as well. After 18 corner kicks, 13 shots and 90 minutes of play, IU prevailed over Valparaiso by a score of 1-0.
Tonight’s match was Levy’s first game in an IU uniform after being ineligible to compete after joining the program halfway through the season last January.
Van Bennekom was blunt with his team’s result.
“Our objective going into the game was to win it, and that’s what we did,” van Bennekom said.
Van Bennekom also praised the play of his players who came in off the bench, especially Levy.
“That's the biggest thing we have this year, more players, more depth,” van Bennekom said.
Levy repeated the sentiments of her head coach, and was ecstatic to be at a full Armstrong Stadium. She said having fans back helped bring new energy to the team and created a good environment.
IU will face Notre Dame in their next match Sunday at 4:00 p.m. in South Bend, Indiana.