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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

Indiana women’s soccer’s quest toward achieving Big Ten prominence

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In 2022, Indiana women’s soccer recorded a program-record seven draws, six of which were scoreless outings. Time and time again the Hoosiers put together outstanding defensive performances, yet, due to an inability to score goals, they couldn’t produce wins. Ultimately, Indiana would finish with a 3-7-7 overall record and just one victory in conference play. 

However, a new year provided the Hoosiers with an opportunity to turn a new leaf. In its shortened five-game spring season, Indiana rattled off an impressive four wins. Even more inspiring was the goal differential across the games, where the Hoosiers outscored the combined opponents 13-0, posting shutouts in each of their five outings. The spring season delivered some much-needed confidence to Indiana as it showcased the team's ability to produce goals in addition to the elite defensive prowess shown in 2022. 

In the present fall season, the Hoosiers are capitalizing on their success from last spring. Just six games into the campaign, Indiana has already surpassed its 2022-win total, posting a 4-0-2 record to open the 2023 season.  

The undefeated Hoosiers have been in good form on both sides of the ball, scoring an average of 1.8 goals per game and holding opponents to an average of 0.6 goals per game. To put it in perspective, the 2022 Indiana team scored just 11 goals over 17 games for a conference-worst .647 average. 

The surge in offense has been led in part by senior midfielder Anna Bennett, who has assisted three and scored one of Indiana’s 13 goals in the young season. Her performance has not gone unnoticed, as head coach Erwin van Bennekom remarked on her skills. 

“You don’t see many players like her, who have the ability to fall in with speed and good control, and she can, which is so tough to defend,” van Bennekom said following the Hoosiers 3-0 victory against Morehead State University Aug. 24. “She’s spent a lot of time on it, and we’ve spent a lot of time on it, so I’m happy that it’s shown up.” 

Bennett is far from the only bright spot the Hoosiers have had however, as graduate forward Paige Webber and junior defender Lauren Costello have been central in the team's offensive attack thus far. Additionally, goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg has lived up to her reputation as one of the premiere keepers in the Big Ten. The German native has secured four shutouts this season, bringing her career total to 19. 

Indiana will play three more games before heading into conference play Sept. 17 against Rutgers. The Hoosiers fall season will be reliant on their unproven offense, which serves as the pendulum to their success.  

Although the saying is “defense wins championships,” Indiana has become all too familiar with the reality that a good, or rather great, defense is nothing if the ball can’t find the back of the net. If the Hoosiers can consistently produce goals this year, the team’s ceiling may indeed be competing for a conference title.

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