Offensive inconsistencies plagued the Indiana women’s soccer team throughout its road trip this week. The inability to finish close chances came back to haunt the Hoosiers, as they finished with 15 shots but only one goal in a 2-1 loss against Murray State on Aug. 30.
After a 1-0 loss to undefeated Louisville on Sept. 5, the Hoosiers drop to 1-3-0 on the season. Before discussing Indiana’s next matchup against Morehead State on Sept. 8 in Bloomington, let’s review the Hoosiers’ road trip.
Game One: Murray State
The Hoosiers faced an early 1-0 deficit after a 20th minute goal from Lilly Strader that was just out of reach for IU goalkeeper Bethany Kopel. The Hoosiers responded quickly in the second half though, as freshman Jaimie Tottleben scored from 15 yards out in the 50th minute.
? Take a look at this strike from Tottleben as she gets this one through the keeper’s hands. pic.twitter.com/0P2teL2qor
— Indiana Women’s Soccer (@IndianaWSOC) August 30, 2019
It was a tough result for Indiana in the end, as it was only able to find the back of the net on 15 shot attempts and nine shots on goal. An 81st minute goal from Rebecca Kubin sealed the deal for the Racers and started the Hoosiers’ road trip 0-1.
A promising spark off the bench was found for Indiana in this game, though, as freshman midfielder and Bloomington native Grace Saccone put her first shot of the season on goal. Saccone has only appeared in two games this season, but represents part of a promising freshman class in head coach Erwin van Bennekom’s first season.
Game Two: Louisville
In an almost opposite offensive output for Indiana, a 1-0 loss represented a winless road trip for the Hoosiers. After 15 shots versus Murray State, Indiana’s attack of Chandra Davidson, Melanie Forbes and Avery Lockwood only produced three total shots.
A well-defended game from both sides saw a tie-breaking penalty shot come in the 78th minute courtesy of Louisville’s Emina Ekic after being fouled in the box. Lockwood nearly responded with a goal in the 80th minute, but goalkeeper Gabrielle Kouzelos saved the 16-yard shot.
While a late loss like this could discourage a team, van Bennekom said he thought the Hoosiers executed their game plan well.
“I think we played with the courage we wanted to see on the ball,” van Bennekom said. “But we struggled a little bit once we broke through their first line of pressure to play through the midfield and create opportunities.”
While the Cardinals produced more corner kicks and shots, van Bennekom noted that both goalies had to make two saves, showing good effort from Indiana throughout the game.
It has been all or nothing for the Indiana attack this season in terms of shot production. After just one shot versus North Carolina, the Hoosiers seemed to have fixed their offensive struggles with 12 and 15 shots versus the University of Illinois-Chicago and Murray State, respectively. However, Indiana’s offense was stymied once more against Louisville with only three shots.
While putting up impressive offensive numbers against No. 2 UNC is a challenge for any team in the country, the Hoosiers failed to produce frequent opportunities against Louisville, as well.
Davidson has carried the load for the Indiana offense with seven shots, followed by Lockwood with four and Nicolette Kapsalis and Allison Jorden with three each. Van Bennekom has lauded Indiana’s ability to play through the midfield in the past, but finishing opportunities is what has cost the team games.
Promising freshman class
Heading into the season, Lockwood was the headliner of the freshman recruiting class. With three shots on goal, the four-star recruit has lived up to expectations, fitting in well in the midfield and creating chemistry with Davidson and Forbes on the attack.
But Lockwood isn’t the only freshman who has showed signs of promise. Tottleben scored her first goal of the season against Murray State and shares the team lead in goals with Davidson. Freshmen Bria Telemaque and Allie Schlom have gelled well in the midfield as well. Telemaque also earned her first career start against Lousiville.
In just 10 minutes of play versus Murray State, Saccone made a quick impact with a shot on goal that nearly gave Indiana the lead in the 71st minute.
With a variety of freshmen producing for the Hoosiers, van Bennekom now has depth on the bench, as well as different options for the starting lineup.
Road struggles carry over
Indiana began its 2019 campaign with an 0-3 record on the road. The team had similar struggles last year, posting a 3-6-1 road record overall and a 1-5 road record in conference games.
While the sample size is still small this season, this should still be seen as a concern based on last year’s road woes. While van Bennekom was pleased with the team’s execution of their game plan against Louisville, Indiana will need to start converting these close games into wins to move up in the Big Ten standings.
The Hoosiers’ next road trip begins with a Sept. 12 matchup with the University of Texas-Martin and concludes on Sept. 15 when they travel to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
Indiana will play host to Morehead State on Sept. 8. The Eagles come into this matchup with a 1-2 record, and most recently took down Akron 2-1.
Nicole Palmer and Gabby Nastasi are the lone goal scorers for the Eagles this year, but Indiana will also need to prepare for Holly Logsdon, who has an assist and two shots so far. Morehead State has struggled on offense this season, with only five shots on goal and three corner kicks. The Eagles will play aggressively on defense, seen by their four yellow cards already.
The Hoosiers’ could face a duo of goalkeepers in Grace Gaffney and Kayla Landman, as both players have seen equal time in goal this season. Landman leads the team with eight saves, but has given up four goals, while Gaffney has three saves and three goals allowed.
This game can be seen on BTN+ at 1 p.m. ET.