Going into halftime on September 10, 2023, the IUPUI women’s soccer team was down 1-0 against Lindenwood. Being counted out at halftime is where the Jags are most comfortable.
The women's non conference season could be summarized with one phrase: winning ain't easy. The Jags so far have fought through injuries, 100 degree games, and a torrential downpour all to end up with a stellar 6-2 record, including a win against #42 ranked Dayton.
These challenges made the Jags ready for anything and going into the locker room with a 0-1 deficit to Lindenwood, the women’s soccer team was not fazed. Senior midfielder Leah Shumate knew the battles they had gone through made the team ready to mount a comeback.
“In the locker room, it was all positive at half,” Shumate said. “So, I think we just built off each other and brought each other up.”
Senior Sam Slimak described how the team led a confident effort out of the half.
“I think we felt really gritty, and, after beating Dayton on Thursday, it was time to step up with our opponents today,” Slimak said. “We were down a goal at the half. It was kind of hard, but we knew we would come out strong and get a few goals.”
After some back and forth to begin the second half, the Jags kicked it up a notch. The Jaguars were relentless on attack, outshooting Lindenwood 18-7 in the second half. That pressure finally proved fruitful for IUPUI in the 79th minute when a mistimed tackle on freshman forward Caroline Kelley sent Slimak to the line. Slimak easily converted the penalty kick, but there was no celebration following the goal. The Jags were all business.
Less than two minutes later, freshman forward Avrey Bangert found some open space and sent the ball to senior forward Emma Antoine. With the keeper out of the penalty box, Antoine sent the ball across her body and into the back of the net. Immediately following the goal, Antoine turned toward her teammates and raised her hands in triumph.
IUPUI, now up 2-1, was back. With six assists in the season already, Antoine scored her first goal of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.
Just over a minute later, Bangert again found open space after a long through ball sent in by Shumate found its mark. This time, Bangert sent it into the net herself to complete the trifecta of goals. In just a little over three minutes, IUPUI had completely turned the tide of the game to take the lead 3-1.
While not at full strength, IUPUI came back to win 3-1. Slimak credits the victory to players stepping up.
“We are still facing some adversity with our subbing [due to injuries] and everything, but, honestly, the people that stepped up did really well today. I thought we brought that intensity, for sure, in the second half,” Slimak said.
One of those who stepped up to the challenge recently was freshman forward Caroline Kelley who scored a goal in Sunday's game against Cleveland State to secure the 2-2 draw.
With a third of the roster made up of freshmen, Shumate noted that the ability of the freshmen to quickly take roles within the team has helped the team.
“Since the beginning, they have honestly meshed really well with our team, so I think that helps,” Shumate said. “We are honestly really close and tight-knit, so that’s why we have had so much success on the field.”
The team now faces a challenging conference schedule ahead, where they were picked to finish sixth of 11 teams according to a preseason poll. Looking ahead, Slimak mentioned that the team is looking to improve their intensity in order to beat last year’s sixth-place regular season result.
“I think every game matters, and we need to bring that intensity,” Slimak said. “Last year, we had some ties that we should have won. So, we have new goals this year in starting strong and keeping our lead when we get it.”
Nathan Ensley is a photographer and writer for The Campus Citizen, IUPUI's student news publication, focusing on sports and campus. He is a sophomore majoring in Informatics.