It took nearly 322 minutes, but, under the lights of Bill Armstrong Stadium on Thursday night, the Hoosiers' scoring drought finally vanished in a commanding 3-0 victory against the Indiana State Sycamores. It came on a special night for the Hoosiers, as they celebrated goalkeeper Bethany Kopel, midfielder Megan Wampler and defender Karlee Luker on Indiana’s Senior Night.
After beginning the season with three straight scoreless draws, a sense of desperation for offensive production became almost overwhelming.
Throughout the entirety of the first half, the Hoosiers seemed destined for another scoreless outing. Possessions continually fizzled out in the attacking third, and attackers struggled mightily to penetrate the Sycamore’s backline.
Just over five minutes into the second half, however, senior forward Paige Webber broke the aforementioned scoreless streak. Webber headed in the first goal of the season — as well as the Hoosiers’ first goal since Oct. 8, 2021 against Northwestern — courtesy of a brilliant cross from senior midfielder Alaina Kalin.
Head coach Erwin van Bennekom said he always believed the Hoosiers were capable of finding their footing on the attack.
“I’d like to say I knew the goal was going to come, deep down,” van Bennekom said after the match. “Full credit to the team for staying patient and not getting too frantic.”
After Webber’s goal, the floodgates burst open. In the 60th minute, junior forward Jen Blitchok fired a long-range shot into the bottom-left corner to give the Hoosiers a 2-0 lead. Senior defender Alaina Kalin notched her second assist of the night on Blitchok’s goal, making her the only Hoosier to get on the scoresheet twice.
With roughly 15 minutes remaining in regulation, a cross that pinballed its way to the top of the six-yard box fell right at the foot of junior forward Anna Bennett, who was perfectly positioned for an easy tap-in goal.
The second-half offensive surge looked like an entirely different attack than the Hoosiers have displayed thus far, and van Bennekom said he was relieved with the Hoosiers’ newfound production.
“Obviously, at halftime, being 0-0, it wasn’t a great feeling,” van Bennekom said. “How we handled that second half and the pressure that comes with it, credit to them.”
With 24 shots compared to a meager three from the Sycamores, the Hoosiers were finally able to combine relentless pressure from attackers with buildup play and shot creation.
The win was crucial, as Indiana remains undefeated against Indiana State historically. Additionally, it allows for momentum to build as the Hoosiers schedule continues to strengthen and Big Ten play looms.
Indiana finalizes its three-match homestand at 6 p.m. ET Sunday against No.16 Notre Dame, which figures to be a tough intrastate battle. A win for the Hoosiers would serve as a major resume-booster and an opportunity to position themselves as a national threat.