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Into Big Ten play, missed chances are still Indiana's kryptonite

In the 71st minute of Indiana’s game versus Nebraska on Sunday, the Hoosiers had one of their best chances to score. It came when Avery Lockwood’s shot from inside the box was saved by Nebraska goalkeeper Aubrei Corder, but rebounded to Grace Saccone who crossed the ball back to Lockwood. 

Midfielder Avery Lockwood during the game between the Morehead State Eagles and the Indiana Hoosiers at Armstrong Stadium. Photo By Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics

Again, Lockwood’s header fell right into the hands of Corder, representing another missed opportunity from the Hoosiers. In Indiana’s 2-0 loss to the Cornhuskers, this season-long storyline remained unchanged.

The Hoosiers put up 11 shots, only three of which were on goal. Head coach Erwin van Bennekom was frustrated in his team’s inability to finish chances and test the goalkeeper, even when the team changed its gameplan to a more direct attack in the second half.

“I think we did a good job creating some opportunities, but I don’t think [Corder] even had to make a save,” van Bennekom said. “So, yes, we had some opportunities, but how much did we really test the goalkeeper?”

Against the Cornhuskers, Lockwood had four shots, one being on goal. Lockwood has three goals on the season, but her greatest struggle of finishing shots has represented the entire team’s greatest struggle this season. 

The beginning of Big Ten play has been a prime example of this struggle for the Hoosiers. Against Iowa on Sept. 20, Indiana put up eight shots and was constantly threatening in the second half, but scored no goals. 

Likewise, 15 total shots were taken, and nine put on goal, in Indiana’s 2-1 loss to Murray State on Aug. 30. These games along with the result against Nebraska will serve as serious learning opportunities for the Hoosiers.

“I think the next part of Avery’s game is finishing chances,” van Bennekom said. “The ball striking in front of goal and at the top of the 18 [yard box], what is she doing with the final ball?”

Lockwood’s relentless attack in the second half against Nebraska came in the form of a laser-shot to the top right corner that was tipped away in the 82nd minute. Again, Lockwood and the Hoosiers were left wishing that one of their chances would fall.

While Lockwood couldn’t convert any chances Sunday, van Bennekom sees a lot of promise from her going forward. This season, van Bennekom said he has seen great quality in Lockwood’s defending and the way she positions herself when the Hoosiers have the ball.

“I think finishing is the next step even though she has scored some goals,” van Bennekom said. “She could have had a couple more.”

In its first two Big Ten games, Indiana has lost 2-0 each time and squandered plenty of scoring chances. Van Bennekom tried to give the offense a boost by bringing the back line of defense up and pressing Nebraska further up the field, but the team was still not converting shots into goals.

Van Bennekom said finishing ability is something that not a lot of players have, but he believes there are a few players on this team that have that ability. Going forward, he hopes the team can put its players in a better position to score and finish.

“It’s tough. You can’t just snap your fingers,” van Bennekom said. “It’s just a tough situation right now, but we will deal with it and get better.”

Moving on, the Hoosiers will begin a three-game road trip when they take on Michigan State on Sept. 27. The road trip continues with matchups against Michigan on Sept. 29 and Illinois on Oct. 3.

Indiana was victorious in its two most recent road games against UT Martin and Kentucky and will look to break a two-game losing streak against the Spartans. This game can be seen on BTN+ at 7 p.m.

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