Soccer wants to keep focus up the whole game

BY BEN WOLFSON | AUGUST 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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Even though the Iowa soccer team (8-9-3, 1-7-2 Big Ten) finished at the bottom of the Big Ten last season, the team members are optimistic heading into Friday's season-opener against DePaul.

The Hawkeyes were very pleased with the results of a 6-0 win in an exhibition match against Drake on Aug. 13.

"I think it was a positive start [for us]," head coach Ron Rainey said. "We got to see people at spots that we think they would fit in the fall."

Rainey noted that Drake didn't really test his team's pace, though. He said he expects his squad will have to adjust against DePaul in order to keep possession of the ball.

Senior midfielder Sarah Langlas echoed her coach's statements.

"The Big Ten is known as being fast and hard," she said. "We're going to need to replicate that in practice and in games before we hit Big Ten competition, and DePaul will be really good for us for that."

Besides being able to compete at the pace of the opponent during games, the team is also focusing on playing with the same intensity in practice.

"[The team] wants to do better in the Big Ten and to prove that we aren't last," senior midfielder Morgan Showalter said. "This team has come into [the] preseason wanting to prove that, and even the freshmen know they want to prove it. They think the upperclassmen have set a high standard of play during practice, and they've really joined into the group."

That sounds good for the Hawkeyes, who have 10 incoming freshmen on the roster.

First-year defenders Caitlin Brown and Melanie Pickert will probably start against DePaul, as will forward Cloe Lacasse.

"Our freshman group has done well; some others will take time [to develop as players], and [for] some, this will kind of be an apprenticeship year," Rainey said. "I always think if freshmen play well, it's [because] the seniors, juniors, and sophomores are allowing them to have the confidence to be out on the field."

The players also want to improve on closing out games this season, something they said stemmed from a lack of focus.

"We had a bunch of 1-goal games the past two years," Langlas said. "It doesn't really matter if you win 1-0 or 3-0; if you win, you win. So we're just not going to lose our focus even for one minute. It's a mentality thing."

Showalter agreed.

"We had a lot of games that were close that we shouldn't have been on the lower end of," the Cedar Rapids native said. "We're willing to prove that this year that we're going to put those games away."

Showalter and her teammates will try keep focused as they travel to Chicago to play DePaul, a team that went 11-9-2 last season in the Big East.

"[Our team] has a lot more energy [than last year], and we've done a really good job becoming one team and uniting under one goal," Langlas said. "We're all really determined in what we're doing on the field and off the field. I would say it's been this movement."

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