It was a different match Sunday afternoon for Indiana women’s soccer, but the story remained the same: A scoreless draw after 90 minutes.
This time, the draw came against not only one of the best teams in the conference, but one of the best in the country in No. 8 Penn State. This is a sign of growth from a young program.
“It feels a little different,” head coach Erwin van Bennekom said. “In the big scheme, it’s another tie. But (there’s) a lot we can use going forward.”
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The Hoosiers held their own against one of the nation’s top offensive teams to tie the program record with eight consecutive shutouts. The streak of 720 minutes matches the record the Hoosiers set in their 1993 inaugural season.
Penn State came into the match as co-favorites in the Big Ten preseason poll and was voted in the top 10 of the latest rankings after starting the season 5-1-1, with 13 goals scored and only six goals allowed.
However, the Hoosiers stifled the Nittany Lions despite getting outshot 15-7. Sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg played to her usual standards, making eight saves, tying her career-high. Gerstenberg also made eight saves against Virginia Tech University earlier this season, a game that also ended in a 0-0 draw.
It’s just the fourth time in program history that Indiana avoided a loss against Penn State, which came into the match with a 28-1-2 advantage all-time in the matchup. It’s the first time since 2016 that Indiana has gotten at least a point against Penn State. The match six seasons ago also ended in a draw, 1-1, after extra time.
“It says a lot about the potential of this group and what we can do going forward,” van Bennekom said.
Van Bennekom said at one point last week he counted eight underclassmen on the field at once for the Hoosiers, who now have earned a valuable point against one of the nation’s best in their Big Ten opener.
Since the beginning of the season, van Bennekom has said he wants the team to show growth from game to game and not look too far ahead of themselves. Coming into this season, he simply said the goal was to “improve each and every day.”
Van Bennekom said he wants to show the new recruits and prospective players what the team can do against some of the best schools in the country, and with this result, the team’s undefeated streak is up to eight games.
Looking ahead, van Bennekom said the team needs to find a way to win more matches, but he believes this point could be crucial down the line if the team hopes to play in the postseason.
This match’s outcome proves the future is bright as the Hoosiers have come a long way even in a year, as last season the team lost 3-0 in College Park. That loss remains the only time that Gerstenberg has given up multiple goals in her collegiate career.
Indiana will attempt to break the program record with nine consecutive clean sheets on Thursday, when the Hoosiers travel to Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers, a team that Indiana did not face in 2021. First kick is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota.