Coming off IU’s season opening win against Valparaiso, the Hoosiers hit the road to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While IU was thoroughly outshot by a very good Notre Dame team, the Hoosier defense persevered and walked out of South Bend with a tie 0-0. Indiana will travel home for its next game Thursday night.
With all of this travel back and forth, it’s been hard for the team to get rest and prepare for their next match at the same time. IU will have two days of rest and preparation before the team travels from Bloomington to Memphis to take on the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. For head coach Erwin van Bennekom, recovery is more important than anything.
“Nobody gets better if somebody’s hurt or mentally not right,” van Bennekom said. “So we’re doing whatever we can to get physically better, do a ton of video, learn a lot of things without being relaxed, and really focus on the recovery piece.”
Next up for the Hoosiers will be taking on the 1-0-1 UT Martin Skyhawks, who are members of the Ohio Valley Conference. UT Martin goalkeeper Erica Myers has been labeled as a “player to watch” this season, so the Hoosiers will have a tough task ahead of them offensively come Thursday night. This will be the second of three straight on the road for the Skyhawks, so it will be important for the Hoosiers to come out with lots of momentum.
Last time these two teams faced off was last year, and the Hoosiers escaped with a 2-1 victory. Van Bennekom described the crazy experience that was last year’s matchup between IU and the Skyhawks.
“I still remember that game, and I think it was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had coaching a game,” van Bennekom said. “It was in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, and I felt like anytime you missed a shot you hit a truck. I was like, ‘Get me out of here with a win as soon as possible’, and we did. We dominated the game but they were dangerous and a well coached team, so it was just a tough, tough game.”
Going against a tough goalkeeper like Myers and a disciplined team in UT Martin, this could end up being a very good test for the Hoosiers come conference play. Van Bennekom believes the styles of teams like Louisville, Notre Dame, and Memphis will prepare Indiana for talented Big Ten teams such as Penn State, Michigan, and Rutgers.
Van Bennekom also mentioned that there are games that the team should win, but the overall goal for non conference scheduling is to make sure that it makes sure the team peaks not at the beginning of the year, but at the end.
“I think the best thing about this program is every year we play our best soccer at the end of the year, which I’m not sure if most teams do,” van Bennekom said. “So I think that’s where we want to go and want to pick up results down the line.”