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First conference road trip to test Iowa soccer

BY BEN WOLFSON | SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa soccer team is off to its best start in school history (8-0-1) as it travels to Bloomington, Ind., to face the Hoosiers in its first conference road game.

The Hawkeyes will also play Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., on Sept. 25.

The players say they are looking forward to tonight's matchup against the Hoosiers, especially because the Hawkeyes lost to Indiana, 3-2, in overtime last year in Iowa City.

"We're really excited to get into the Big Ten part of our season and show everyone what we can do, no matter if it's on the road," senior midfielder Sarah Langlas said. "The pressure [to do well against Indiana] comes from how our team played against them last year. We didn't get the result we wanted or play how we wanted to. People are thinking about that and using it as a reason to get excited to play."

The Hoosiers (4-4-1) are coming off two-consecutive losses, to No. 12 Marquette and to Michigan.

"We know Indiana is going to be a super opponent," head coach Ron Rainey said. "Our team has played on the road this year, and we just have to have the mentality that Indiana is going to be defending its home turf. We have to play at an even higher level than we did against Illinois [last weekend] if we want to be successful."

The team has traveled this season and won all three games — against DePaul, George Washington, and American. The Hawkeyes said they enjoy road trips because of all the extra time they have to bond with each other.

That team bonding enables for better team chemistry on the playing field, senior Rachel Blakesley said.

"A lot of people say it's hard with road trips — we see it as an opportunity to get to know each other more," Blakesley said. "We incorporate that camaraderie that we have on the bus and bring that energy on the field to help us as a team."

That chemistry was present in Iowa's conference-opener last weekend against Illinois.

The Hawkeyes raced out to a 2-0 lead on the Illini, but Illinois scored two goals in the second half.

After two periods of overtime, the game ended in a draw, 2-2.

The way the Hawks performed against then-No. 23 Illinois gave them expectations of good things to come this season in the Big Ten, Blakesley said — especially after a last-place finish last year.

"Scoring those first two goals made a statement about our team," Blakesley said. "We're really willing to face any opponent. We're more excited than anything to have a new challenge and see where we stand against Big Ten teams."

Lacasse honored

Freshman Cloé Lacasse was named one of the Big Ten's Top 20 College Players to Watch by topdrawersoccer.com on Thursday.

Lacasse is one of only two freshmen in the conference to make the top-20 cut.

The Ontario native has established herself as a star for the Hawkeyes, leading the team with 10 goals and 23 points through nine games.

She trails the Iowa all-time lead in those categories by five goals and 13 points with 10 games left on the schedule.


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