Flash of the forward


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The forward position in soccer is one of the most glorious figures in sports. These players are put in the spotlight by the nature of their job: to put the ball in the net.

“I think generally that is true, that forwards get more attention than the rest of the field players,” Iowa forward Dana Dalrymple said. “But in reality, every position is equally as important.”

While she may be correct, today’s culture tends to obsess over offense. The Iowa soccer team is currently third in the Big Ten in scoring with 24 goals.

Soccer fans love to see highlights of forwards making flashy finishes, not to mention the ensuing celebration routine. But there is much more to the position than what appears on the glamorous surface.

“I’ve learned that you have to be really dynamic to be successful,” junior forward Keli McLaughlin said. “There are different things that you have to be able to do. You have to always be willing to run and have energy, to go as hard as you can and as fast as you can every single play.”

McLaughlin is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with seven goals. She admits that to play forward, one has to not only have the skills but a special attitude.

“You have to have a drive,” she said. “You have to want the ball and not be scared to make a mistake. Defenders are going to stop you. That’s their role. If it doesn’t work, you have to keep going.”

Dalrymple said patience is an asset every forward needs to have.

“Having composure in front of the goal and the mentality that you can score,” she said. “Working with the other forwards on and off the ball, creating space and finding passing lanes is just as important, too.”

Both Hawkeye strikers have interesting perspectives. Neither came to Iowa having much experience at the position.

But both developed the forward persona when they arrived on campus. McLaughlin, a junior, was a defensive player in high school but played some forward for her club team.

“As a forward, you kind of make things happen,” she said. “And as a defender you prevent things from happening. I just like to make things happen. That’s the forward’s job.”

The freshman Dalrymple was a high-school outside midfielder but switched to forward to better her chances of earning playing time. Currently, she ranks sixth on the team in shots.

“I just want to make an impact,” she said. “It’s just the mentality I have. I’m kind of learning the ropes because I haven’t played [forward] as much.

“I’m just trying to check into open seams and move toward the ball or get in behind the defense. When I get the ball, I just try to work with others so that we can get a chance to score.”

Sophomore striker Alyssa Cosnek is tied for fourth in assists in Big Ten with four, proving that forwards do more than just score goals. Senior midfielder Alex Seydel understands that being a focal point of defensive attention comes with the territory of being a forward.

“Forwards are under more pressure than maybe anyone else besides the keeper because, not only do they get the glory, but they’re also the ones who miss the wide-open shot,” Seydel said. “It takes a really tenacious type of person to play forward. Not every person has that characteristic.”

But while forwards get the glory and the credit for most goals, they know they can’t do it alone.

“Sometimes, the person who scores gets all the glory, but it wouldn’t happen if my teammates didn’t make that good play or good pass,” McLaughlin said. “I’m just in the right place at the right time.”

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