Heading into the 2023 women’s soccer season, Penn State was the consensus favorite to win the Big Ten. Indiana women’s soccer on the other hand had won just three total games in 2022. Fast forward two months into the season and the Nittany Lions are the fourth-ranked team in the country and, unsurprisingly, atop the conference standings, while the Hoosiers claimed an 11-1-4 record ranking second in the conference.
It was only a matter of time before the Hoosiers would have to play the Big Ten’s juggernaut, but to Indiana’s dismay, Penn State was the victor when the final whistle blew in Thursday night’s contest.
An Indiana team that has scored one or fewer goals in its past six games knew it was going to need a defensive masterclass to defeat Penn State. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, their hopes of holding the Nittany Lions at bay were dashed in just the 20th minute. A free kick just outside the 18-yard box was all it took for senior defender Kate Wiesner to give Penn State the early lead, as the California native powered a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Although the Hoosiers outshot the hosting Nittany Lions 5-4, a gritty first half saw Indiana find just one shot on goal, as the Hoosiers would head into intermission down 1-0.
Following halftime, both teams sought to grab control of a back-and-forth game, but the second half offered similar action to the first 45 minutes of play. Once more, the two teams traded possession while struggling to find quality shots on goal. Late in the second half, however, Penn State finally found the dagger that put the Hoosiers away for good.
Acrobatics were fully on display when sophomore midfielder Julia Raich contorted her body to send a right-footed blast past junior goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg and into the top left corner of the net. The score offered an impressive highlight, but more importantly, gave the Nittany Lions a two-goal lead. All in all, the deficit proved too much for Indiana, as the game ended 2-0, giving the Hoosiers their second loss of the season.
Indiana hopes to bounce back Sunday when the Hoosiers travel to College Park to take on Maryland in the final regular season game in 2023. The Terrapins have yet to find a win in conference play, while the Hoosiers are well on the path to a birth in the NCAA Tournament. The match will kick off at 1 p.m. and be broadcast on Big Ten+.