Even though Indiana field hockey will be on the road over the weekend, some of its players will have a homecoming of sorts when the team takes on No. 8 Penn State.
Seven Hoosiers hail from the state of Pennsylvania and will get a chance to play in front of a friendly crowd Friday.
“It's very heartfelt to be heading back home and being able to see all of our family and friends,” sophomore forward Meghan Dillion, from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, said.
The game against Penn State is part of an East Coast road trip for Indiana, who heads to play No. 6 Rutgers on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions won their first six games to start the season but have since lost two in a row to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Indiana sophomore midfielder Sophia Gladieux and Indiana senior defender Anna Simon lead Penn State with seven goals a piece.
Rutgers comes into Sunday’s matchup on a four-game winning streak and has an overall record of 8-1.
Dillion says the Hoosiers are looking forward to the challenge of facing two ranked teams this weekend.
“I think it's going to be a great opportunity for us to prove that we can compete in one of the most competitive conferences in field hockey,” Dillion said.
Last season, the Hoosiers finished the season with only one win and played on the road for every single game. In its last game, Indiana lost to Maryland by a score of 8-2.
To get their minds off the results on the field, Dillion said the Hoosiers took to team bonding by playing minute-to-win-it style games.
“Sometimes it's really good to step off the pitch and just enjoy each other's presence and time,” Dillion said.
The team responded Sunday by winning a gritty game over Ball State and looks to extend that mindset through this weekend.
Head coach Kayla Bashore said after the game a team that cares for each other can translate that chemistry onto the pitch.
“I just think it shows how a culture and a team's unitedness can result in a good performance,” Bashore said.
This weekend will provide another opportunity for the Hoosiers to show they can compete in one of the country’s best conferences. They are 0-2 against conference opponents and are looking to win their first conference game this weekend.
The game against Penn State is at 6 p.m. Friday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. Indiana takes on Rutgers at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Bauer Track and Field Complex.