Indiana women’s soccer head coach Erwin van Bennekom let out a sigh of relief in the 56th minute of play.
When Indiana senior forward Paige Webber saw her shot against Indiana State University junior goalkeeper Maddie Alexander reach the back of the net, she gave the Hoosiers their first lead of the game, season and first point since Oct. 7, 2021.
Indiana defeated Indiana State 3-0 on the Hoosiers’ senior night, boosting the team’s record to 1-0-3 and extending its all-time winning streak against the Sycamores to five.
“I am so proud of the team after three games going 0-0,” van Bennekom said. “I’d like to say that I knew the goal was going to come deep down, but full credit to the team for staying patient and not just getting too frantic.”
After playing a full half with plenty of offensive production but no goals to prove it on paper, it would’ve been easy for the Hoosiers to panic. Instead, they came out early in the second half with cleaner passes, sharper shots and a passionate mentality that yielded results almost immediately.
“At halftime, we decided that the plan was to move the ball and be patient,” van Bennekom said. “Once the first one went in, we knew things would come.”
Senior midfielder Alaina Kalin was a playmaking catalyst in the second 45 minutes. She dished out two assists on the first two Hoosier goals — the first to Webber for a header and the second to junior forward Jen Blitchok, who weaved her way through defenders for a crafty goal in the 61st minute.
“She’s good,” van Bennekom said about Kalin’s lead in the Hoosiers’ offensive breakthrough. “Luckily, we have her coming back next year for one more year.”
In addition to Kalin, Blitchok has established herself as a strong offensive leader for Indiana during the young season. It wasn’t until this matchup against the Sycamores, though, that Blitchok’s prowess came to fruition.
The junior accounted for 25% of the Hoosiers’ shots of the night, recording six out of 24, the 2022 team best. Indiana has increased its shot total from game to game across all four contests, doubling the 12 it took against Ball State University on Aug. 25. Eight of the team’s 24 shots against Indiana State were on goal.
Junior forward Anna Bennett was the third and final Hoosier to score, which came on her first and only shot attempt of the night.
The Hoosiers were so dominant in their attacking half of the field that sophomore standout goalie Jamie Gerstenberg barely partook in any action. The Sycamores’ offense was consistently stagnant, and no serious scoring threats came towards Indiana for the majority of the game.
Gerstenberg recorded one save before graduate student Bethany Kopel took her place in the 60th minute for the remainder of the game.
Indiana’s offensive explosion will provide some momentum going into the Hoosiers’ next match against the first ranked opponent of 22 — No. 16 University of Notre Dame — on Sunday.