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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

Paige Webber erupts for hat-trick in Indiana women’s soccer win against Murray State

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The newcomers continued to shine for Indiana women’s soccer in its matchup against Murray State University Thursday night at Bill Armstrong Stadium. 

A hat-trick from Michigan State transfer and junior midfielder Paige Webber, paired with freshman forward Jordyn Levy’s fourth goal of the season, guided the Hoosiers to a 4-0 victory over the Racers.

Levy, who earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for a pair of goals over Labor Day weekend, didn’t wait long to extend her goalscoring streak to three consecutive matches.

In the 29th minute, Levy found herself wide open in the center of the penalty area between two Murray State defenders. Senior defender Oliwia Wos took notice and launched the ball into the box from 25 yards out and connected with Levy on a header that snuck into the bottom right corner, giving the Hoosiers the lead.

The goal eventually proved to be the game winner, meaning Levy leads Indiana and is tied for the lead in the Big Ten in game-winning goals with three. 

With a little over a minute to spare before the halftime whistle, Webber found herself in the right place at the right time to open her scoring account for the cream and crimson. Following a failed clearance attempt by the Racers, freshman defender Camille Hamm played a bouncing ball into the box for Webber.

“I didn’t have a clean shot, so I just wanted to get something on it toward the goal,” Webber said.

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Junior midfielder Paige Webber chases after the ball Sept. 9, 2021, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana beat Murray State University 4-0. Kamaron Farver

Her attempt certainly didn’t make it seem that way, as she twisted her body to rifle a half volley above the head of Murray State junior keeper Jenna Villacres.

The show didn’t stop there.

In the second half Webber tormented the Murray State defense, making effort plays and chasing balls that appeared to be too far out of her reach. 

In the 65th minute, Webber took advantage of a Murray State miscommunication in the box, dashing past a defender and chipping it over Villacres for her second of the night. Webber’s hat-trick strike to truly put the game away at 4-0 was a carbon copy of her second.

“My mindset coming off the bench was just to run everywhere and not stop,” Webber said. “It worked out because I scored off of those runs.”

Indiana head coach Erwin van Bennekom praised Webber for her breakout performance and stressed the importance of hard work. Webber had not started a single game for Indiana this season and scored her hat-trick in 42 minutes off the bench Thursday.

“I’m so happy for her,” van Bennekom said. “It proves anything can change no matter what situation you’re in, if you’re not feeling it or it’s just not working for you.”

The strong offensive outing against a Murray State side that Van Bennekom said would be one Indiana’s toughest opponents all season is a good sign for the Hoosiers before their tough Big Ten schedule begins. Indiana’s depth has been and will be crucial in the program’s success going forward.

“Just the feeling of knowing we can score and create goals from different people is so valuable,” van Bennekom said. “The confidence level from everyone is going to keep us going.”

Indiana will look to take that confidence and win its first match on the road this season when it faces Kansas State University at 8 p.m. Sunday at Buser Family Park in Manhattan, Kansas.

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