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Freshman's role in Iowa soccer's attack changes

BY BEN WOLFSON | OCTOBER 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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Senior Alyssa Cosnek took possession of the ball on the left side of the field during Sunday's soccer game against Michigan State and passed it ahead to freshman Cloé Lacasse.

Lacasse was immediately set upon by Spartan defenders, but she was able to find wide-open teammate Dana Dalrymple on a cross.

Dalrymple took the cross and scored the goal for Iowa, notching the only score of the game in a 1-0 victory.

That moment epitomized how Lacasse has adapted and changed her playing style this season.

Lacasse, a speedy freshman striker from Ontario, has been a major part of the Hawkeyes' (11-1-2, 2-1-2 Big Ten) success this year.

She leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and is second in assists with five through 13 games.

After terrorizing opposing defenders in the nonconference schedule, she has been heavily marked and double-teamed whenever she gains possession of the ball during Iowa's five conference games so far.

"I have to change my strategy if I'm going to get double-teamed and hit physically, because there's nothing I can really control about that," Lacasse said. "When you're not capable of getting through defenses [by yourself], you have to find another way to get through and find holes in the defense."

Lacasse hasn't scored in the past four games, but the Hawkeye offense hasn't missed a beat.

Head coach Ron Rainey has implemented a five-player midfield that features Dalrymple and sophomore Leah DeMoss as attacking players on the outside of the field.

Now, when Lacasse has the ball in the attacking third of the field, she refrains from taking on defenses single-handedly. Instead, she waits for the inevitable double-team from defenders and plays the ball back to her trailing midfielders.

"As a forward, we want [Lacasse] to get chances on goal and to also help create scoring chances," Rainey said. "Three of our last four games have been 1-0 [final scores]; a goal or an assist, in my mind, is the same thing."

With DeMoss and Dalrymple on the wings, Lacasse often has an open player to dish the ball to in order to create more scoring opportunities for the Hawkeyes.

The transition to outside wing was welcomed by DeMoss, who often played the striker role in the team's offense as a freshman last year.

"One of my strengths would be getting the ball in front of me and running at people," DeMoss said. "When I was playing in Cloé's spot, my back was toward the goal. I can do that, but I'm better with the ball in front of me, and I'm able to play to my strengths on the outside."

DeMoss is tied for second on the team with five goals, and Dalrymple is right behind her with four goals and two assists.

The new offense has been effective so far in catering to the team's strengths, and it will be used for the rest of the conference season, DeMoss said.

"We're using it to all of its advantages," she said. "[Opponents] are starting to see that [Lacasse] is a good player, so they put another defender on her. She's also creating space for us when she's running out of the way, because she's dragging two players instead of one.

"She makes everyone around her look good."


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