After the departure of Abby Allen and Mykayla Brown, who combined for 14 of Indiana’s 33 goals last year, the Indiana women’s soccer team turns to a familiar face as the facilitator of the offense. Senior forward Chandra Davidson was named the team captain on Aug. 13 by first-year head coach Erwin van Bennekom.
Davidson scored two goals on 27 shots last season to go along with five assists. She comes in with plenty of experience, having started every game during her sophomore and junior seasons. A two-time member of the academic All-Big Ten team, Davidson exemplifies the kind of player van Bennekom wants leading this team.
“[Davidson] is relentless and she brings the right attitude and that’s why she’s the captain,” van Bennekom said. “We have a leadership group that will help make sure the team runs smoothly and will look to Chandra to be the head of that.”
Led by Davidson, the Hoosiers will travel to Chapel Hill on Aug. 22 to take on the no. 2 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels to begin their season at 6:30 p.m. The Tar Heels lost 1-0 to Florida State in the NCAA championship game last season, and are consistently regarded as one of the premier programs in women’s soccer, having won 21 NCAA tournament championships since 1982.
Indiana will look to build off of momentum gained in its two exhibition games versus Indiana State and Northwestern. The Hoosiers started exhibition play on a strong note after taking down Indiana State 3-0. Davidson, alongside midfielders Melanie Forbes and Allie Scholm, each found the back of the net against the Sycamores, while freshman forward Jamie Tottleben made a strong first impression with two assists.
In the second of two exhibition games, the Hoosiers fell 2-1 to Northwestern, with Davidson as the lone goal scorer for IU. Bethany Kopel and Caitlin Arbuckle both played in goal for the Hoosiers throughout exhibition play, but Kopel is expected to play the vast majority of time in goal this season. Kopel played all 18 games last year and allowed 30 goals, while saving 92 shots and earning four shutouts.
With the conclusion of exhibition games, the Big Ten conference announced the Preseason Honors List on Aug. 19. Earning this honor for Indiana was Davidson, sophomore defender Oliwia Wos and freshman midfielder Avery Lockwood. This is the second year in a row that Davidson has been voted on this list by coaches in the Big Ten.
Wos, a native of Olesno, Poland, joins the Hoosiers this season after playing her freshman season at Wake Forest. Wos started at center back in 13 games for the Demon Deacons, and made an appearance in three other games. She helped lead a defense that propelled Wake Forest to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Lockwood, who committed to Indiana in January, was ranked as a 4-star prospect by TopDrawerSoccer. She represented the club Midwest United and comes from Rockford High School in Belmont, Michigan. Lockwood was also the no. 2 player in TopDrawerSoccer’s Great Lakes Regional Rankings, as well as no. 33 on the Girl IMG Academy 150 rankings.
van Bennekom’s first recruiting class features nine players, headlined by Lockwood. On Dec. 4, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass hired van Bennekom, who previously served as associate head coach at Duke University for four years. During his time at Duke, the Blue Devils were NCAA runners-up, and reached the NCAA quarterfinals, semifinals and round of 16. van Bennekom helped coach the team to a 68-17-11 record in his four years.
Even Mark Krikorian, head coach of the 2018 NCAA champion Florida State Seminoles, was impressed with this hire.
“I’ve had the chance over the last few years to observe an outstanding professional coach and believe he is going to grow the program and put IU in the NCAA Tournament and compete for championships,” Krikorian said on Dec. 6.
van Bennekom, a native of the Netherlands, has experience as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama, as well as coaching multiple club teams since 2010.
The Hoosiers will begin their first season under van Bennekom with a seven-game non-conference schedule, featuring five road games. Last season Indiana finished non-conference play with a 4-1-2 record, only to finish the season at 8-8-2 after a 4-7 conference record.
Indiana will play its first home game on Sunday Aug. 25 at 1:00 p.m. versus the University of Illinois-Chicago.