Indiana Clinches Big Ten Tournament Berth With 1-0 Win Over Wisconsin
Oct. 27, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana Women's Soccer team (13-4-1, 6-4 Big Ten) clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2007 on Sunday with a 1-0 victory against Wisconsin (9-6-2, 4-5-1 Big Ten) at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Junior Abby Smith scored the game-winning goal on a diving header in the 79th minute and senior goalkeeper Shannon Flower made it hold up with five saves.
"This team has worked so hard to get where they are," Indiana head coach Amy Berbary said. "Our immediate goal was to advance to the Big Ten Tournament, and to be able to do it on our own, before the season is over is amazing. I can't express in words how proud I am of this team and happy for them that they get to experience postseason play before their careers are over."
Indiana held a 10-9 edge in shots for the game while Wisconsin drew eight corners to five for the Hoosiers.
The 13 wins are the most since the 2007 season while the six Big Ten wins are the most since 1998 for the Hoosiers. It's also the first time since 2007 that Indiana has earned a spot in the Big Ten Tournament and the 11th time overall that IU will participate in the conference tournament.
The shutout for Flower gives her eight this season, tying Ashley Davis (1998) for the most by an IU goalkeeper in a single season. The 13 wins in goal for Flower are tied for second-most in a single-season by an IU keeper, one behind Davis' 14 wins in 1998.
Wisconsin began the game by drawing consecutive corner kicks and had threatening services into the box but Flower - and Tori Keller - turned them all away. On one corner, the Badgers sent the corner kick in front of the box and it was deflected away from Flower and seemed destined for the goal but Keller was on her mark on the near post and cleared the ball off the line. The Badgers finished the first half with a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.
"Wisconsin has a fierce attacking front five, and we knew that going in. So we knew that we had to be near perfect, defensively, and that was all over the field. Shannon once again came up huge for us, and when she makes a big save, it makes everyone setup their own game."
The Hoosiers were able to get their attack going in the first half as well, with Kayleigh Steigerwalt providing a number of strong crossing passes through the box but she was unable to find anyone on the receiving end of them, so the teams went to the locker room tied, 0-0.
In the second half, it appeared to be more of the same from both teams, with each one taking turns putting pressure on the other goal.
In the 67th minute, the Badgers got a shot off from 25 yards out that looked to be headed for the upper right corner of the goal, but at the last second, Flower jumped up and deflected the ball over the crossbar. Then in the 75th minute, a missed clearance by an IU defender deflected off a Wisconsin attacker and put the Badgers in 1-on-1 with Flower in goal. The senior came charging off her line and went down to the ground to block the shot and keep the game scoreless.
That save by Flower energized the Indiana attack and they were able to convert just a few minutes later. After Nebraska failed to clear the ball out of the final third, Monica Melink gathered the ball on the right side and beat her defender to the end line and sent a low, hard cross into the box. Smith was making her run from the far side and dove head first at the ball and was able to deflect it towards the far post, out of the reach of the UW keeper. The ball rolled towards the post, hitting the inside of it and falling in the goal to put the Hoosiers ahead, 1-0.
The goal is the fifth of the season for Smith and the sixth game-winner of her career. For Melink, it's the fourth assist of the season and the second straight game with a point after scoring the game-winning goal at Purdue on Thursday.
"We had got in on (goal) several times, but just let our chances go over the crossbar," Berbary said. "So we told the team that this was going to be a game of chances and who was going to be able to execute one or two chances and Abby stepped up big, laying out for us. That's the competitiveness that we need in and around the frame and we weren't going to let it get away from us today."
Prior to the game, eight seniors were recognized - Rebecca Candler, Shannon Flower, Megan Holland, Kate McCusker, Monica Melink, Lisa Nouanesengsy, Lara Ross and Becca Zambon - for their contributions to the program as they played their final regular season home game at Armstrong Stadium.
Indiana will close out the regular season on Friday when they travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on the Huskers at 5 p.m. ET. The Big Ten Tournament will then take place Nov. 6-10 in Champaign, Ill.
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