Bloomington, Ind. - The Indiana women's soccer team opened the 2002 fall sports season tonight, hosting Valparaiso at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Though this evening's match-up was an exhibition contest, it gave first year head coach Mick Lyon and his staff a good look at how this group will play together.
The first game of the season, and Lyon's first as a coach at IU ended in a 1-1 tie with the Crusaders.
"Our team's overall performance was a B-minus. The effort and commitment were at a very high level, but tonight we really played a median kind of game," Lyon said.
The Hoosiers would score first on a free kick by Shelly Gruszka at the beginning of the second half and hold their one-goal lead over the Crusaders for most of the game until Valpo's Lorna Torrez scored on a pass from Lori Moore late in the game to secure a tie in the season-opener for both teams.
The exhibition gave both the Hoosiers and the Valparaiso staff a preview of their teams entering the season.
"We knew their system of play was going to be strong in the middle with their three center midfielders, and that is our weakness," said Crusader head coach Stephen Anthony. "We had to alter our game plan tonight for that and I think we hung in there."
A highlight for the Hoosiers was the opportunity to get freshmen some collegiate experience. IU sent sixteen players into the game as five of the eight freshmen got into the contest. Freshman midfielder Kristen Zmijewski was a dominant force around the park and worked hard throughout the game, trying to give the Hoosiers the edge they needed for victory.
"I was very nervous going into the game tonight because it's the first in college. The play at this level is so much faster. But now that I've actually played in a game, I know what to expect," said Zmijewski.
Although Lyon was pleased with the effort level his team showed tonight, he knows there are some critical things that need work in practice.
"Tonight we totally lacked leadership on the field - but this is a growing process. Excellence doesn't happen in one session. We as coaches demand play at a high level because we've seen it on the training field. Now we concentrate on seeing it on the playing field," said Lyon.
The Hoosiers travel to Ft. Wayne, Ind. to play in the IPFW Soccer Showcase. They will face the host school at 6 p.m. Saturday evening.