Indiana earns trip to first championship game with 3-1 win against Ohio State
IOWA CITY, Iowa - While championship-game veteran Michigan made its way back to the tournament's final contest in Saturday's first semifinal game, a newcomer emerged to fill the title bout's other slot. With a 3-1 win against third-seeded Ohio State, second-seeded Indiana earned the team's first trip to the conference tourney final in program history.
The Hoosiers took an early lead when Kayla Bashore, drove past the 25-yard line and gunned a pass through a crowd of Buckeye defenders to Lydia Shrott, who redirected it into the net to put the Hoosiers on the board first at the 10:38 mark in the first half. The score was Schrott's 14th of the season and second of the tournament. Schrott's overtime goal against Iowa gave the Hoosiers their first-ever conference tournament win.
The third-seeded Buckeyes didn't let Indiana run away with it, but the Hoosiers' offense was too dominant and they capitalized on an early lead and 12th halftime lead of the year. Having never lost when leading at the break, Indiana claimed its school-record 16th win of the season with outstanding second-half contributions from its key players.
After the Buckeyes sent three uncontested shots sailing wide in the middle of the second half, Ohio State made sure to capitalize on their next attempt. Curlyne Wynn, an All-Big Ten First Team member for defense, showed her offensive skills. Wynn connected on a pass from Linda Haussener on a penalty corner to give even the game at 1-all with a little more than 25 minutes left in the game. It was Wynn's fifth goal of the year.
A little more than a minute later, Bashore, the Conference Player of the Year put her skills on display, too. She gunned a shot from the top of the striking circle on a corner situation that sailed past Ohio State goalkeeper Lindsay Williams. Lydia Schrott and Meredith Brown tallied assists on the goal that put the Hoosiers back in the lead, 2-1.
Indiana put an exclamation point on its championship game bid when senior Ryan Woolsey netted her first goal of the year with 13:12 left in the game. An alert Woolsey was in perfect position to redirect a rebound off of Lesley Wiler's shot on a corner, and stretched Indiana's lead to 3-1. Wiler logged an assist on the play.
After taking 40 shots in their first round contest with Northwestern, the Hoosiers slowed things down for their semifinal meeting with the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers didn't take a shot until almost eight minutes into the first half. Mallory Reabold's attempt was blocked, but she drew a penalty corner on the play. The Hoosiers, who missed 17 corner opportunities against the Wildcats, couldn't capitalize on their first corner situation of the day.
The Buckeyes out shot the Hoosiers, 18-6, and drew seven more penalty corners, but the Hoosier defense was able to prevail with the work of the "Ex-Factor", goalkeeper Haley Exner. An All-Big Ten First Team selection, Exner made seven stops in the game. In the teams' regular season meeting, Exner made a career-high 16 saves.
On Ohio State's opening possesion, Lauren Kruse blast a shot toward the goal, but the attempt was thwarted by Exner. Exner earned her 15th win - and the distinction of being Indiana's all-time winningest goalie - with the Hoosiers' 2-1 defeat of Iowa.
Michigan and Indiana square off at 1 p.m. at Grant Field to determine the conference tournament champion.