It was 2013 when Indiana women’s soccer last made the NCAA Tournament. Fast forward one decade and a twelve-win 2023 season had the Hoosiers facing off with No. 6 seeded St. Louis University on Friday evening. Unfortunately for Indiana, its stay in the dance was short-lived as the hosting Billikens defeated the Hoosiers 2-0 in the first round of the tournament.
Heading into the game, the Hoosiers had scored 31 goals this season, an improvement from the 11 goals scored in their 2022 campaign but dwarfed by St. Louis’ 67 goals. Indiana knew that it needed sound defense to come up with a victory. To the Hoosiers' dismay, the hopes of holding the Billikens scoreless were dashed in the game's early minutes.
An 11th-minute challenge inside the 18-yard box by freshman defender Piper Coffield proved to be costly, as the referee deemed the effort a foul, giving St. Louis a penalty kick. St. Louis graduate student midfielder Abbie Miller was called on for the attempt and converted with composure as she slid the ball past the outstretched hands of junior goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg and into the back of the net.
Indiana showed promise in its attack following the early score, as the offense tallied five first-half shots and in large part controlled the pace of play. Most the first half was played with St. Louis on defense, yet the visiting Hoosiers were unable to find a way onto the scoreboard.
Despite Indiana’s efforts, the Billikens’ midfield would strike once more before the half was over. Following a long cross from a 30th-minute corner kick, graduate midfielder Anna Lawler found herself with a golden opportunity to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead. The Oklahoma State University transfer headed a shot into the bottom right corner of the net, as Indiana allowed their second goal of the initial 45 minutes of play.
A seesawing second half saw the Hoosiers find 11 more shots, three of which were on goal. However, time and time again the Billikens' defense made the necessary plays to keep Indiana scoreless. When the final whistle blew, the Hoosiers had the edge over St. Louis in total shots 16-12 — though the score remained 2-0.
A disappointing end to Indiana’s season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament puts a blemish on an otherwise remarkable bounce-back year for the program. The 2022 Hoosiers finished the year 3-7-7, failing to reach the Big Ten Tournament, while the 2023 team put forth a 12-4-4 overall effort en route to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade.