Indiana Daily Student

Return of defensive discipline crucial for Indiana women’s soccer in draw with Louisville

<p>Then-freshman goalkeeper Jaime Gerstenberg kicks the ball Aug. 19, 2021, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana will face Memphis, who lost to Louisville in its last game, on Sunday in Bloomington.</p>

Then-freshman goalkeeper Jaime Gerstenberg kicks the ball Aug. 19, 2021, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Indiana will face Memphis, who lost to Louisville in its last game, on Sunday in Bloomington.

Indiana sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg gave two outstanding performances in the first two games of the season. She collected 12 total saves while adding to her tally of career clean sheets, earning Big Ten Co-Goalkeeper of the Week honors. After those games, the Hoosiers barely needed her. 

Until tonight. 

Gerstenberg’s outing against the University of Louisville proved that quiet defensive nights against Ball State University and Indiana State University didn’t slow down the sophomore sensation. She recorded four crucial saves against the Cardinals, doubling her total of two from the Hoosiers’ last matches against their in-state foes. 

[Related: Active offense benefits Indiana women's soccer in 3-0 win against Indiana State]

Indiana entered the matchup as the less aggressive of the two offenses, facing a Louisville team with three wins and eight total goals to its name. Even though the Hoosiers’ six shots were bested by the Cardinals’ 11, the balanced defensive swarm of both teams was the crux of the draw.  

With both teams showing recent bursts of offense — Indiana’s 3-0 win against Indiana State and Louisville’s 3-2 win against No. 23 University of Memphis both on Sept. 1 — it came as a surprise that neither could capitalize on high quality shots. Thursday’s game was one of long-lasting offensive possessions, but the stamina of the Hoosier and Cardinal defenses stole the show. 

Louisville took control from the first possession of the game, and the ball stayed in the Cardinals’ attacking third for the majority of the first 15 minutes. Then, towards the end of the first half, the Hoosiers flipped the script and kept the pressure on Louisville freshman goalkeeper Erynn Floyd by maintaining a strong offensive attack of their own. 

Nearly every shot on goal from both teams in the second half was high quality and often just feet from resulting in a point on the board. In the 77th minute, Louisville sophomore defender Anouk Denton fired a bullet that was too high for Gerstenberg to reach, but it barely skidded off the top of the goalpost. In the 87th minute, Indiana freshman forward Abbey Iler had a breakaway with only one defender on her side, but Louisville redshirt freshman goalkeeper Olivia Pratapas, who subbed in for Floyd with over 30 minutes to play, was there for the save. 

[Related: Indiana women's soccer looks to extend winning streak at Louisville]

Box scores and statistics can’t attest to it, but every player on the Hoosier and Cardinal squads had a role in the two-way defensive shutdown.  

When the ball hovered around the net, forwards came farther up in the field to balance the attack. Both Indiana’s and Louisville’s determination were evident in the deflections and long kick-outs to help defend the post. The Hoosiers even recorded a team save when sophomore defender Camille Hamm stepped into goal to reject a shot after a Gerstenberg error. 

Overall, outstanding defensive discipline on both sides overpowered high-quality offensive looks. While no one player besides Gerstenberg, who made game-saving plays, stood out for the Hoosiers, the above-average team execution is a promising sign moving forward. 

Indiana will go on to face Memphis, a team that dropped out of the top-25 rankings after its loss to Louisville, on Sunday, Sept. 11 in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are looking for their second win of the season, and, after proving that they can stick with an aggressive offense without conceding a goal, the odds just might have shifted in their favor.  

Follow reporters Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and Austin Platt (@AustinPlatter) for updates throughout the game and the rest of the Indiana women’s soccer season. 

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