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Soccer opens Big Ten with draw against No. 23 Illinois

BY BEN WOLFSON | SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa soccer team battled with Illinois for 110 minutes on Sunday, but neither team could capitalize as the game went into double-overtime.

The Hawkeyes (8-0-1, 0-0-1 Big Ten) ended up with a 2-2 draw with the No. 23 Fighting Illini (6-2-1, 0-0-1) in both teams' first conference game of the season.

"I told the team, 'Hey sometimes you end games with ties,' " head coach Ron Rainey said. "Maybe that was the deserved result, but both teams left it out there. That was a fun game, and I don't see how anybody at that game couldn't be entertained through the 110 minutes."

The Hawkeyes' offense got off to a quick start when senior defender Morgan Showalter sent a free kick into the Illinois box in the 10th minute. Sophomore Alex Melin capitalized by heading the ball through the defenders and past Illini goalkeeper Stephanie Panozzo for her fourth goal of the season.

Only two minutes later, Melin threatened again as she fired a shot off the crossbar from 20 yards out.

The ball ricocheted right to freshman Cloé Lacasse, who took the rebound and put it in the back of the net.

Lacasse now has 10 goals on the year and needs just five more to tie the Hawkeyes record for goals in a season, which was set by Sarah Lynch in 1999.

The young striker had a scary moment in the second half, however. Lacasse was thrown to the ground by an opposing defender and smacked her head on the ground. She came up limping and was taken out of the game but later returned.

With her continued success, she said, she realizes more and more teams will approach her physically in hopes of slowing down Iowa's offense.

"There are more scouts out there, and we just have to adapt to that," Lacasse said. "It will turn out being a positive outcome, because I'll just get better."

The Hawkeyes took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but Illinois came back in a span of less than two minutes after the break.

In the 67th minute, a chip shot by the Illini's Jenna Carosio got past Hawkeye goalkeeper Emily Moran.

Just over one minute later, Illinois' Shayla Mutz headed the ball in to tie the score at 2.

"I wouldn't say [this game] was a letdown, but it is upsetting we couldn't hold up 2-0," Showalter said. "Illinois is a good team, and we need to respect the way we play."

Showalter also said she hopes the rest of the teams in the Big Ten notice Iowa's result. Iowa went 1-7-2 in conference play in 2010, but Showalter said the team is much improved this year and thought the Hawkeyes made a good impression on Illinois.

"I think they'll look at it maybe shocked — and I hope they do," Showalter said about Big Ten teams looking at the Hawkeyes' game against Illinois. "We came out 2-0 on Illinois quickly; it just proves — if we can hold out and actually pull through — we can win against teams that are ranked high."

Despite not being on the team last year, Lacasse has similar beliefs.

"[Today] wasn't the outcome that we wanted, but I think people are going to realize the true potential the team has this year," she said. "[Teams] are going to realize this is a new squad this year, and we're going to have a big effect on the Big Ten."


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