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Goal unachieved for soccer

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | NOVEMBER 10, 2009 7:20 AM

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Simply put, the Iowa soccer team fell short of its goal for the 2009 season.

The Hawkeyes (9-11, 1-9) had their sights set on a NCAA Tournament invitation in August. And the feat appeared possible at the start of October.

But, there will be no postseason for Iowa in November.

Iowa fell to No. 23 Purdue, 3-2, in overtime, in its last match on Nov. 7. The Hawkeyes finished in last place in the final Big Ten standings.

The season started well in the warm months at the end of summer. But as the weather got colder so did the Hawkeyes.

The nonconference slate helped Iowa set a program-record 8-3 start, but head coach Ron Rainey and Company went on to win only one match in conference play — a 2-1 victory over Michigan at home.

“The thing that will stand out to me this year is that we are not finishing off some of these games in overtime and the hurt that comes with that,” Rainey said. “I’m very positive about what this team’s done and this senior class over four years. To play with a team like Purdue at the end of a tough year was good to see.”

During the team’s media day in August, players and coaches talked about taking “the next step” as a program.

“I’d say we were on the brink of doing it,” senior Alex Seydel said. “We were very close. A couple different things happening early in the Big Ten season — balls bouncing different ways, mental lapses as a team — and that step gets taken. We were so close. We were right there just on the edge of that.”

What the Hawkeyes’ unappealing record doesn’t reveal is how close the team really was to reaching its ultimate destination. Of Iowa’s 11 losses, eight were by one goal, and four of those were in extra time.

There are plenty of things, along with the record start, that the Hawkeyes are proud of accomplishing.

Led by sophomore goalkeeper Emily Moran, the defense recorded six shutouts and even went over 409-consecutive minutes without allowing a goal. Moran collected 93 saves on the year.

The offense outscored opponents 34-29 over the course of the fall, captained by Keli McLaughlin.

The junior led Iowa in total goals (9) and points (19) and also finished the conference in fifth and eighth place in the categories.

McLaughlin and freshman Alyscha Mottershead were named Offensive Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks by the Big Ten, with Mottershead also being honored as Freshman of the Week.

“I feel like we got better as the season went along,” McLaughlin said. “The positive part of it is we know what we need to do now on paper. We just need to translate that to the field. We have to keep working and chipping away, and we’ll get there.”

The Hawkeyes lose a core of seven seniors who will be missed, but nine starters return, along with a group of talented underclassmen who will be hungry to win in 2010.

When Rainey was asked if he thought his team took a step forward this season, he had mixed feelings.

“No, because we wanted to go to the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “But from a results standpoint, I do believe we took the next step to be able to compete with teams. We were in every game, and I felt like we had chances to win a ton of games.

“You just feel a little bit bad that we weren’t able to get over the hump. We competed and played straight up with all the teams in our league. It’s the first time we’ve been able to do that in four years. I think that the off-season will lend ourselves some time to reflect, and our next year have those results become wins.”


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