Indiana women’s soccer took the pitch Sunday afternoon in the win or go home first round of the Big Ten Tournament against No. 6 Penn State. The visiting Hoosiers sought a resumé building victory in preparation for the looming NCAA Tournament, but the Nittany Lions rode an overwhelming all-around performance en route to a 3-0 win.
An Indiana team led by a stingy defense hoped to force a low scoring affair, however, a timely Penn State attack found a pair of scores in the initial 45 minutes of play.
In the 21st minute Penn State junior forward Kaitlyn MacBean led a dazzling run into the Hoosiers 18-yard box, before firing a left-footed shot at junior goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg. The German-born keeper managed to keep out the initial attempt, though the danger was far from cleared as the deflection trickled in favor of the Nittany Lions. Senior defender Eva Alonso found herself in the right place at the right time as she drilled home the second chance shot to give Penn State an early lead.
To Indiana’s dismay, the Nittany Lions would again strike gold in rapid fashion when, in the 25th minute, a long cross caught the Hoosiers defensive backline by surprise. This time it was sophomore forward Amelia White who capitalized with an opportune shot, dribbling past Gerstenberg and sending the ball to the back of the net.
It's difficult for a team’s defense to steal the spotlight, especially when an offense scores twice in the first half alone. However, the Penn State defense had a nearly flawless first half performance. A stifling defensive front held Indiana to just 4 total shots in the first half and not a single shot on goal.
The Nittany Lions started the second half with a bang, when MacBean slashed home a shot in the 52nd minute for her second goal of the game extending Penn State's lead. The remainder of the half offered a more competitive battle, as the Hoosiers garnered some offensive opportunities, tallying four shots on goal. Unfortunately for Indiana, it was too little too late as the Nittany Lions closed out the game with the score cemented at 3-0.
With the Hoosiers early exit in the Big Ten Tournament, their hopes of a berth in the NCAA Tournament are placed in the hands of the selection committee. Indiana will await in angst until the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, which takes place Nov. 6. A season in which the Hoosiers achieved their highest national ranking in program history (16), now rests in uncertainty as Indiana seeks its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.