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Iowa soccer gains first Big Ten Tournament berth since 2008

BY BEN WOLFSON | NOVEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa soccer team finished the regular season 13-4-2 — 5-4-2 in the Big Ten — and was rewarded with an invitation to the Big Ten Tournament. No. 6-seeded Iowa will face No. 3-seed Michigan State.

The other teams competing, in order of seeding, are Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio State, and host Northwestern.

The Big Ten reinstated the postseason tournament after a two-year hiatus for this season; the last tournament was in 2008 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Iowa played in that tournament because it received an automatic host bid rather than because of its 3-6-1 conference record.

"The reasoning was to stretch the regular season out so there would be a little more rest for teams," head coach Ron Rainey said on why the conference put its postseason on hiatus. "I've always been a proponent of the tournament, but I understand how a stretched-out regular season will have fewer injuries and a higher quality of games."

Iowa was coming off its first loss of the season when it first faced the Spartans, on Oct. 2 in Iowa City; Michigan had beaten the Black and Gold two days earlier, 1-0.

The Hawkeyes struck early against the Spartans, though. Junior Dana Dalrymple scored in the seventh minute on a goal assisted by freshman Cloé Lacasse and senior Alyssa Cosnek.

That score proved to be the difference — the defense shut out the Spartan attack and held the lead for more than 80 minutes of play.

"That was one of our best games of the year, when we played [Michigan State]," sophomore midfielder Leah DeMoss said. "The result we got against them showed we were a better team, and I believe we're the better team now. We all gelled together [in] that game, and our team really took off after that."

While Iowa scored only once in that game, the team has outscored its past two opponents (Northwestern and Wisconsin) by 8-1. DeMoss netted three of those goals.

But Michigan State is one of the better attacking teams in the Big Ten, Rainey said.

The Spartans rely heavily on two players, senior Laura Heyboer and junior Olivia Stander; the two have scored 29 of the team's 38 goals. Heyboer has 18 goals and nine assists on the season, and Stander has contributed 11 goals and nine helpers.

The Hawkeyes will need to remain calm and relaxed before the postseason and concentrate on playing good team defense, said senior Morgan Showalter.

"We came out fired up ready to play that game and came out a different team than what they were expecting," Showalter said about October the win against Michigan State. "Our defense has gotten better every game — we held Wisconsin to three shots on goal last weekend.

"Going into the tournament, we're not going to get [many] shots on goal so we need to finish the few that we get. To help [our offense], we'll need a shutout."

The majority of the Hawkeyes on this year's roster will experience postseason play for the first time, but DeMoss said that could be an advantage because of a desire to make a good impression on the rest of the conference.

"[Rainey] has told us everyone has the same record now, it's all 0-0," she said. "We have to go out and prove to everyone we're here for a reason and that we should end up on top. We play with a chip on our shoulder — some teams still doubt us because of last season, and we're hoping to prove a lot of people wrong."

Soccer earns awards

The Big Ten announced its all-conference teams on Tuesday, and Showalter was named second-team All-Big Ten.

Showalter switched from midfield to defense at the start of the season; she has started every game in her career. She's Iowa's all-time leader in assists (29), including nine this season.

Freshmen Cloé Lacasse and Katie Brown were recognized when they were named to the league's All-Freshman team. Lacasse leads Iowa in scoring with 12 goals and six assists, giving her 30 points on the season. She is three goals and 6 points shy of former Hawkeye Sarah Lynch, the school record-holder for points and goals in a single season.

Lacasse and fellow freshman Mel Pickert were also recognized by TopDrawerSoccer.com as members of its 2011 Women's Freshman Top 100. Lacasse is No. 22 on the list, and Pickert is No. 77.


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