Sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg was laser focused on the imminent danger that loomed ahead of her. As Wisconsin forward Rylee Howard was all alone darting toward the ball at the top of the Hoosiers’ 18-yard box, Gerstenberg burst off her line to make a play in hopes of keeping the match level.
As Gerstenberg leaped to clear the ball out of harm’s way, her cleat connected with Howard’s face. What ensued was a red card that knocked the star goalkeeper out of the match, and a quick pair of goals snatched any hope Indiana had at stealing points on the road.
Indiana women’s soccer suffered its second straight road loss on Sunday afternoon, this time a numbing 2-0 defeat to the Badgers. The Hoosiers remain scoreless and winless in conference play through three matches.
For the second consecutive match, the Hoosiers came out with intensity and high-energy play for the first few minutes. With a pair of quality chances early, including a near goal from freshman forward Sarah Sirdah, it appeared Indiana was finally embracing an aggressive mentality.
As the match progressed, however, Wisconsin settled in and was able to take control. The Badgers succeeded in both building out of the back and finding areas to penetrate in the final third, and they managed to rack up eight shots in the first half.
Shortly after Gerstenberg’s ejection, Wisconsin broke through in the 34th minute. On a free kick sent to the top of the Hoosiers’ box, sophomore defender Aidan McConnell headed the ball behind her to a wide-open teammate in senior forward Emma Jaskaniec.
Jaskaniec easily tapped in a left-footed shot past substitute graduate student goalkeeper Bethany Kopel, and the Badgers suddenly were on top.
Just over five minutes later, Wisconsin was threatening yet again. Jaskaniec carved her way down the edge of the Hoosiers’ box and lofted a cross to the far post. Kopel’s outstretched gloves narrowly missed the ball, and sophomore forward Riley Philbin knocked it into the net.
Despite normally playing disciplined and staying positionally sound, the Hoosiers have now given up a few goals to unmarked players in recent matches. To make matters worse, with Gerstenberg out for the entire second half, Wisconsin was able to tee off on the Hoosiers’ backline.
Playing on their heels, Indiana was stifled on most of its attempts to counter the Badgers’ attack. Mustering just four shots in the second period, the Hoosiers yet again struggled to make life difficult for the opposing goalkeeper.
As head coach Erwin van Bennekom noted earlier in the season, a high number of shots is not necessarily indicative of functioning attacking play. Still, the Hoosiers have been held under double-digit shots for three straight matches, and have been limited to just a couple of quality chances per match.
After a pair of troubling performances on the road, the Hoosiers will have some time to rest before taking the pitch again. Indiana will look for its first conference win when it hosts Ohio State at 7 p.m. on Thursday.