INDIANAPOLIS — The IUPUI women’s soccer team fought through a slow start Saturday afternoon at Michael A. Carroll Stadium to beat Xavier, 2-1, marking the first Jaguars victory over the Musketeers in program history.
Senior defender Sierra Bryant came off the bench in the 20th minute and wasted no time making her presence known with an equalizing goal in the 22nd minute.
Sophomore forward Maryna Clark crossed the ball from the left side, giving the Xavier goal keeper what looked like a routine play. The ball slipped through her hands as she collided with her own defender, giving Bryant a wide open net.
“She put herself in the right place,” Jaguars coach Chris Johnson said of the fortunate bounce.
Bryant’s goal gave IUPUI its first point against Xavier in program history. The two teams had met three times before Saturday, dating back to the 2012 season, with the Musketeers owning a 7-0 advantage.
Senior forward Catherine Raster netted a goal in the 49th minute to give IUPUI a lead it didn’t relinquish.
The Jaguars worked the ball up the left side of the pitch, and fellow senior forward Tori Minnich crossed the ball to Raster, who made one defender miss inside the box before scoring her fifth goal of the season.
“Tori had a nice pass,” said Raster, who is now tied with Minnich for the team lead in goals scored, “and I called for it and just shot it, and thankfully the goalkeeper didn’t save it.”
Raster used her quickness to get off a team-high three shots against Xavier, two of which were on goal.
“She doesn’t stop running,” said Johnson. “She has played probably the bulk of the minutes up top. She’s constantly a threat to the opposing team with her speed and just battling through those people to put shots on goal.”
Xavier dominated the first stretch of the match, maintaining possession and getting off almost every shot it wanted. Musketeers junior forward Kenadie Carlson booted a shot with her left foot that finished inside the far post to give her team a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute.
Xavier got off 13 shots in the first half alone, three of which were on goal.
Johnson attributed his team’s slow start to a quick turnaround from a 102-minute match Friday night against Evansville, which the Jaguars won, 1-0.
The start of the second half revealed a more aggressive attack from the Jaguars, as they controlled the ball and forced the issue on offense. It was a complete turnaround from the start of the first half.
“This whole season we’ve been coming out stronger in the second half,” said Minnich, who now has two assists on the season. “We haven’t quite figured out how or why we’re doing that because we want to do that in the first half. But we come out in the second half with a lot of energy every game.”
Xavier didn’t have very many opportunities to score an equalizer after Raster’s go-ahead goal. Johnson says his defense made a commitment to double the ball in the second half, and it paid off.
Because of the quick turnaround from Friday night’s match, Johnson was forced to use a multitude of substitutions to keep fresh legs in the game. The Jaguars made 29 substitutions on Saturday, 19 of which came in the second half.
“We brought some subs in,” said Johnson, “and they brought some energy and did some good things for us out there.”
One of the staples of the IUPUI defense, senior Maddie Riedford, was not often afforded a break on the bench, playing 85 of the 90 minutes, the most for the Jaguars outside of freshman goalkeeper Sophia Lipka.
“She did a hell of a job,” said Johnson of Riedford.
After a marquee win against a Big East opponent, Johnson had a simple post-game message for his team: Congratulations, and take care of yourselves.
“It’s a big win for us.”