Indiana Daily Student

Defense keeps Indiana women’s soccer near top of Big Ten with draw against No. 17 Michigan

<p>Junior midfielder Avery Lockwood goes to kick the ball Oct. 3, 2021, in Bill Armstrong Stadium against Michigan. Indiana and Michigan drew 0-0 after the game was called due to bad weather.</p>

Junior midfielder Avery Lockwood goes to kick the ball Oct. 3, 2021, in Bill Armstrong Stadium against Michigan. Indiana and Michigan drew 0-0 after the game was called due to bad weather.

Indiana women’s soccer proved it belongs with the best of the Big Ten after fighting to a 0-0 draw against No. 17 Michigan on Sunday at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington.

The continuation of the match was in question once a lightning delay postponed the game just a minute into the first overtime period. The referees ultimately called the match off due to poor field conditions.

Indiana has now earned two consecutive draws in Big Ten play, the first against an Ohio State side that received votes for the top 25 and the second against Michigan, its first ranked opponent this season.

“Kind of a weird way to end a game,” Indiana head coach Erwin van Bennekom said. “Thursday I was disappointed because I thought we deserved the win clearly with the amount of chances we had. Today, I think it was a fair result.”

Related: Indiana women’s soccer draws with Michigan in overtime due to inclement weather

It comes as no surprise that both teams could not figure out a way to break through the other’s frustrating defensive unit. Going into Sunday's match, Indiana was tied as a top-10 team in the nation in goals allowed, conceding just five this season. Michigan was the second best Big Ten team in that category, having allowed only six goals prior to the match.

“I think we’re hard to create chances against and find a rhythm against,” van Bennekom said. “We take a lot of pride in that. There’s always opponents you like to play because they give you some space, but we’re not one of them.”

Indiana freshman goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg wasn’t too busy in her net Sunday because of how strongly her defenders held their line, but made crucial saves when called upon. 

In the 33rd minute, Michigan curled a dangerous cross into Indiana’s penalty area, but Gerstenberg stopped back-to-back tap-in efforts from going into the net.

Junior midfielder Bria Telemaque goes to kick the ball Oct. 3, 2021, at Bill Armstrong Stadium against Michigan. Indiana and Michigan drew 0-0 after the game was called due to bad weather. Izzy Myszak

Gerstenberg earned the team’s eighth shutout of the season, one clean sheet away from tying Indiana’s single-season record of nine. Former goalkeeper Shannon Flower and current graduate goalkeeper Bethany Kopel both hold the record for their performances in the 2013 and 2019 seasons, respectively.

Van Bennekom had plenty of praise for his starting goalkeeper and is well aware of how close Gerstenberg is to matching the record.

“She’s not getting shutouts against anybody, she’s getting them against Big Ten teams,” van Bennekom said.

Although no goals were scored, the Hoosiers put in one of their best overall performances of the season and were up to the challenge offensively against the Wolverines.

The Hoosiers had conceded in the opening 15 minutes of their previous three matches, but put that in the past on Sunday, taking control early and asking questions of the Wolverines’ back line. As a result, the Hoosiers rarely experienced sustained stretches of pressure in their own half. The final shot total ended 16-11 in their favor.

“We made a change going with two holding midfielders and got momentum with some good set pieces and chances,” van Bennekom said. “It was such a back-and-forth game. The momentum of holding our possession could’ve made such a big change, especially during a Sunday game with tired legs.”

The Hoosiers remain fifth in the Big Ten standings with an 8-2-3 overall record and 2-1-2 mark in conference play. They’ve earned two shutouts and conceded just three goals through five Big Ten matches.

After acing two important tests against Big Ten foes the Hoosiers’ confidence in themselves continues to grow, and they believe they can be among the top teams in the conference once the regular season concludes.

“We always had to plan around staying in the game with them, but now we’re even,” van Bennekom said. “So I think there’s just that feeling of ‘hey, we’re as good as anybody and we can beat beat anybody.’”

Indiana will hope to ride this momentum onto the road when they face Northwestern at 8 p.m. Friday in Evanston, Illinois, to begin a three-match road trip.

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