The sound of the referee blowing his whistle was a common one as Indiana women’s soccer kicked off its 30th season in program history with a contentious 0-0 draw against West Virginia University on Thursday in Morgantown, West Virginia.
A young, aggressive Hoosiers team played fiercely to keep the Mountaineers on their heels in the first ever matchup between the schools. In total, seven Hoosiers made their debut in the Indiana uniform.
The inexperienced Hoosiers played with plenty of confidence and energy, swarming the Mountaineers when they had the ball no matter where they were on the pitch.
Given that overtime no longer exists in the regular season, the team knew they didn’t have to save anything in the tank for two extra 10 minute periods.
With four players — freshmen Jaelyn Pallas, Arianna Rose, Izzy Smith and sophomore Zoe Tiger — getting their first starts in the cream and crimson, it was clear head coach Erwin van Bennekom wanted to get the youngest players as many minutes as possible. During media day, van Bennekom said he believes this roster is the deepest of any of his four years as the Indiana head coach, which is why so many players saw time on the field
In total, 16 outfield players saw time on the field, and 14 played at least 25 minutes. Seven of the 15 fouls were committed by players making their Indiana debuts, highlighted by Pallas’ three. Smith and Rose were the only Hoosiers booked in the match receiving yellow cards just 17 seconds apart halfway through the second half.
In 2021, the most fouls Indiana accumulated in a 90-minute regulation match was 12.
Despite the fouls, Indiana only allowed four of the 12 West Virginia shots to end up on goal, all of which were saved by Indiana sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg. She recorded her 10th shutout of her young career, which is now seventh in program history.
The next opportunity for the young and energetic side to score its first goal and win its first game is against Virginia Tech University on Sunday. First kick is at noon at Thompson Field, with the match being televised on ACC Network