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Indiana women’s soccer blanks Michigan State 3-0

At the end of last Sunday’s match against Kansas State, Indiana women’s soccer played 110 minutes, a full regulation game and two overtime periods with a total of no goals on the board.

A scoreless draw after having 33 shots for the game. The weather, effort, and fatigue played a role in what was a lifeless game for the Hoosiers.

One week later and it was a different story for Indiana. This time around, the Hoosiers pulled out a 3-0 win over conference rival Michigan State. The win improved them to 2-0 in Big Ten play, marking the best start to conference play in Amy Berbary’s tenure as head coach at IU.

“I think this group has quite an amount of grit and energy. Berbary said. “Obviously, winning becomes a habit so they’ve gained more confidence with what we’re doing in training because we’re having results.”

There was an obvious difference in the type of play that IU brought to the table for their meeting with the Spartans. Things were a little off-putting with Indiana’s effort against Kansas State, but any of those doubts have been put to bed by the Hoosiers with these last two performances.

“I think we were disappointed in that result,” Berbary said about the Kansas State draw. “Even though it was a draw it felt like a loss but we have been working incredibly hard on the front side of the ball with our front five and I think we just showed again that we can score from all different areas with different people.”

Things were clicking for the Hoosiers from the start on Sunday, they controlled the pace and tempo of the game and dominated time of possession. Michigan State’s backline handled the pressure well to start but that fell off early on.

With an early attack on the right side of the box, senior forward, Mykayla Brown whipped the ball into the box, followed by a missed shot off the crossbar from junior midfielder, Chandra Davidson and eventually tapped in by senior forward, Maya Piper for the first goal of the game in the ninth minute.

The goal barrage was just beginning though as in the 21stminute, sophomore forward, Melanie Forbes, charged through the heart of the Michigan State defense and while heavily guarded sent a beautiful ball from the back of the box to the right side of the net.

The 2-0 lead established the Hoosiers’ dominance that they would only continue to show throughout the game.

“Today we were really, really focused on locking it down from the beginning so that we didn’t create more work for ourselves on offense,” IU senior defender Caroline Dreher said.

The defense for Indiana and the backline in particular was spectacular. They severely limited any scoring opportunities for Michigan State with excellent help defense, communication, and aggressiveness.

The Spartans rarely got into the box for any real opportunities and only had one corner kick for the entire game.

Outstanding defensive effort was followed by a little bit of offense too. Dreher, one of the key clogs of the backline, even had a goal of her own after receiving a pass from Piper and launching a 35-yard rocket that snuck just inside the top shelf of the goal, giving the Hoosiers their commanding 3-0 lead at the 57thminute.

“Maya just knocked a perfect ball back,” Dreher said. “So, I hit it and I didn’t actually know if it was in or not because nobody reacted, so that was awesome that it ended up being a goal.”

Arguably the biggest difference for the Hoosiers today was the desire and effort displayed.

In the 31stminute, Michigan State had their first real opportunity for a score, freshman forward, Camryn Evans, pulled up from the left side of the box and launched a little dribbler that looked like an easy score with goalkeeper Bethany Kopel out of position. That wasn’t the case though, Claudia Day, hustled to the corner of the goal and slid into the net, while knocking the ball out, to prevent the Spartans from scoring.

It was a crucial play from the Wake Forest graduate transfer to help keep Indiana in control.

Plays like that one and the team’s overall effort throughout the day prove why Indiana has turned the page and looks like a legitimately, tough Big Ten contender. They certainly look like a different team from the Kansas State game a week ago, it has been somewhat of a mid-season revival for the Hoosiers.

“It’s a long season we still have a lot to learn and a lot to build on,” Berbary said. “I think right now we have put ourselves in incredible position, so we just need to come back this week make sure we take care of ourselves. It’s going to be a long travel, it’s going to be a long five days away.”

The Hoosiers will need to keep this going as they enter a daunting stretch with three straight road games against Nebraska, Iowa, and Purdue.

They won’t be back at Bill Armstrong Stadium until October 5 against Wisconsin. If the Hoosiers keep playing like they did today though, they’ll be more prepared for it.

“We have played some very, very good teams, so I think we’ve got a lot to prove this year,” Berbary said. “We still look at ourselves as underdogs which I’m fine with. We keep pushing away.”

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