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Iowa soccer confident for weekend

BY BEN WOLFSON | OCTOBER 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa soccer team's record-setting 11-game unbeaten streak ended on Sept. 30 with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Michigan. The Hawkeyes rebounded with a dominant defensive effort against Michigan State two days later.

Now, the team will try to start a new winning streak when it faces Minnesota on Saturday, a squad the Black and Gold played to a 1-1 draw last year when the Gophers were ranked No. 18 in the country.

Facing only the Gophers this week — instead of the usual two-game slate — is an advantage for Iowa (10-1-2, 2-1-2 Big Ten), because the Hawkeyes sometimes lack fire and energy during the second game of a weekend.

"When players go through college, the Friday-Sunday game is always a tough transition," head coach Ron Rainey said on Aug. 21.

The Hawkeyes will be fresh for this game, Rainey said, and his players said they're eager for their next shot at a conference win.

"This one game allows us to focus just on this one team this week," junior midfielder Dana Dalrymple said. "Before, we've had to focus on two teams in one week; having one game in a weekend keeps us fresher, because there's usually fatigue going into the second game."

Minnesota (4-7-2, 1-2-2) has struggled this year under seventh-year head coach Mikki Denney Wright. The Gophers rank near the bottom of the conference in every offensive statistical category, including goals (16, 10th), shots (188, eighth), and points (48, 10th). They're better on defense, but still in the bottom half of the league.

One bright spot, though, has been freshman Taylor Uhl. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native has provided half the Gophers' total offense with eight goals so far — four of them game-winners — and tacked on an assist.

The Gophers mirror the Black and Gold in several areas, Rainey said; the sixth-year Iowa coach noted Minnesota's athletic forwards and strong defense. Despite Minnesota's less-than-stellar record — the team from Minneapolis is 10th in the overall conference standings — the coach said he sees the Gophers as a tough matchup for Iowa.

"Just watching them on film, they are very athletic and very disciplined defensively," he said. "They have excellent attacking players, and I see a team very much like last year's team."

With a confidence-boosting win against the Spartans on Oct. 2, the Hawkeyes have shown they are a resilient team that can bounce back from adversity.

Senior midfielder Alyssa Cosnek said there's a clear reason the Hawkeyes have had success this year. The Black and Gold are fourth in the league, a stark contrast to their last-place, one-Big Ten win 2010 conference season.

"We can bounce back, and we don't let anything get us down," Cosnek said. "We don't dwell on what's behind us, because that's done and over with. We just look at how we can make ourselves better."


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