Fans were still settling down in their seats when Indiana junior midfielder Hope Paredes smashed a left-footed strike into the top corner of the goal. The San Diego State University transfer joined the Hoosiers in the summer, moving to a power five school to showcase her skills against the highest level of competition. So, when the No. 18 Northwestern Wildcats arrived at Bill Armstrong Stadium, Paredes took full advantage of the opportunity to prove herself on the biggest stage.
Scoring early is nothing new to the Hoosiers, a team that has scored first in each of their 11 games in 2023. Oftentimes, Indiana’s quick scores have given the Cream and Crimson the much-needed confidence to close out games.
Paredes' goal was no exception, as a stingy defense along with shutout goalkeeper play from junior Jamie Gerstenberg kept the Wildcats off the score sheet. A difficult feat made even more impressive when keeping in mind the Northwestern offense, which has scored the second most goals (28) in the Big Ten.
Paredes was not the only transfer to the 2023 Indiana squad. Junior defender Lauren Costello was welcomed to the squad to bolster an already stout Hoosier defense. After starting her career at La Salle University, Costello arrived in Bloomington hoping to be part of a crucial team turnaround.
Following a 2022 campaign in which Indiana finished with a disappointing 3-7-7 record, the pressure was on for a veteran Hoosier core to start finding ways to win games. Costello has provided Indiana with leadership on the defensive side while also contributing as a facilitator in a new and improved offensive attack.
That contribution was seen once more Sunday afternoon, as Costello set up her fellow transfer Paredes to score the decisive goal in a gritty 1-0 victory over Northwestern. The assist was her fifth of the season, second only to senior midfielder Anna Bennet (7).
When asked about the transfers following the game, Indiana head coach Erwin van Bennekom had no shortage of praise for Paredes and Costello.
“They've done so well; they've gotten more and more comfortable as we've gone on,” van Bennekom said. “Both of them are warriors, they just fight and work hard, and they fit in right away.”
Defeating a ranked team is no easy task — as Indiana hadn’t done so since 2017 — so the Hoosiers may be eyeing a national ranking, especially if they continue to find wins in Big Ten play. Indiana’s next test will be Thursday when the Hoosiers travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State. The game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus.