It was a glorious day for soccer on Sunday as IU played its fifth conference opponent. In line for the Hoosiers were the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who entered Bill Armstrong Stadium 4-4-3 on the year.
The match ended 0-0 but Indiana had a golden opportunity to win. If not for the clock, IU could have ended with three points. After forcing a late turnover with less than 30 seconds to go, IU had a three-on-two breakaway that players dream of with the last few seconds ticking down. The attack, led by Marissa Grzesiak, led to a shot that was just a little too far left to eclipse the face of goal.
Other than that chance for the Hoosiers, plus a couple late chances for both teams to close out the game, it really came down to two lackluster performances from both offenses.
Head coach Erwin van Bennekom was absent from the sideline for a good portion of this game. Fellow reporters and the student radio broadcasters speculated the reason for this, but as of now, the reason for his delayed appearance is unknown.
The acting head coach for the day, Tim Verschuren, said postgame that the team is disappointed in the result.
“The second half was a big improvement,” Verschuren said. “Credit to Minnesota, as we had to deal with their direct play and a lot of crosses from them inside the box. They send a lot of numbers forward and put in a lot of good crosses. The second half we had a good amount of chances as well. We stepped it up in the end even when it wasn’t our best start of the season.”
This showing was a lot like the match against Virginia Tech earlier this year, exceptional defense with little to no threatening scoring opportunities — which leads me to my next point.
Goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg was absolutely terrific. Gerstenberg’s performance was the difference between one point and zero points for IU. Granted, the back line did their job as always and looked pretty good doing it, but every so often balls would get past the back line and Gerstenberg would have to make a play, and my goodness she did.
With this revamped and rampant offense being No. 1, the second major reason for IU’s continued success this year is Gerstenberg, who now totals 125 saves in her career filled with accolades. This match tallied Gerstenberg’s 23rd clean sheet, and she’s one shutout shy of the record of former teammate Bethany Kopel.
“If you just look at Jamie’s performance over the whole season, she has made us look good and the back line and the rest of the team has made her look good,” Verschuren said about the German-born goalkeeper.
Up next for IU is the Purdue Boilermakers next Sunday, a game that certainly has been marked on their calendar.