Hawkeye soccer to adjust without DeMoss

BY TOM CLOS | AUGUST 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Leah DeMoss was a star on the Iowa women’s soccer team last season, helping the Hawkeyes to their best record in program history. The midfielder was the second-highest point scorer for Iowa in 2011, racking up 8 goals (including three game winners) and 16 points overall. DeMoss was expected to be a key cog in the Hawkeyes quest for their first ever Big Ten championship this season.

But it’ll be tough for her to help from 198 miles away.

The former Hawkeye abruptly left the program over the summer and subsequently enrolled at Wheaton College, where she is eligible to play immediately.

“She decided to leave to be a little closer to home,” head coach Ron Rainey said. “But it’s no different from losing seniors to graduation: Morgan Showalter, Rachel Blakesley, Alyssa Cosnek — all those who graduated. We [will] figure out what we need to do as a team to get better.”

Family seemed to be the main reason DeMoss suddenly bolted; she’s a native of St. Charles, Ill., which is less than a half-hour from the Wheaton campus, where her brother Jon is a member of the basketball team.

Sophomore forward Cloe Laccase was the only Hawkeye able to statistically outdo DeMoss statistically last season. Laccase was the other half of the duo primed to lead Iowa to bigger heights before the transfer. She felt that the departure definitely didn’t help the team but said that it’s something that should stay in the past.

“Leah was great, obviously,” Laccase said. “She was really close with us, but stuff happens, and we have to deal with it.”

Junior defenseman/midfielder Alex Melin didn’t think there was much to deal with. She said that the team’s roster is deep enough that DeMoss’ departure won’t be an issue.

“I mean she was a good player and stuff, but we’ve got other people who can step up and take that position,” Melin said. “It won’t be a problem.”

Melin has been correct thus far as the Hawkeyes have jumped out to a 2-0 record, which they’ll carry into Friday’s home contest against Loyola-Chicago.

The Ramblers (1-0) opened their season with a 1-0 victory over in-state rival DePaul on Aug. 19.

“We have to be ready for a team that looks to run at us and apply pressure,” Rainey said. “We’ll probably have to play our best attacking game to score and our best defensive game to keep them out of the net.”

Iowa will load up the bus for the first time this season when they travel up I-380 to take on Northern Iowa on Aug. 26.

The Hawkeyes have never lost to the Panthers, winning all nine meetings, the last five each by shutout.

Lacasse was excited to get out of Iowa City and said that in-state rivalries are as important as they get.

“The first road game is always a big deal,” Lacasse said. “The freshmen haven’t gone out yet, and you don’t have the town behind you, but you still have to represent well.”

Iowa will inch closer to matching its perfect nonconference record from a year ago with a pair of victories this weekend. Whether they exceed last season’s accomplishments remains to be seen, but it will have to be done without one of 2011’s star players.

“After you coach for a bunch of years, sometimes you have athletes that transfer,” Rainey said. “It’s just an opportunity for the people out here on a day-to-day basis to make the team as good as possible for 2012.”

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