Iowa soccer faces ISU, Valparaiso with shutout streak on the line

BY TOM CLOS | AUGUST 31, 2012 6:30 AM

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Three hundred thirteen days is a long time.

That’s how long it’s been since the Iowa women’s soccer team last allowed a regulation goal.

The Hawkeye’s goalkeeping trio — sophomore Kiley Beck and freshmen Hannah Clark and Meg Goodson — have stopped all 12 shots they’ve faced through the first four games of 2012. No team has hit the twine in regulation behind a Hawkeye goaltender since Northwestern scored on Oct. 23, 2011, in a 6-1 Iowa victory.

Clark wasn’t at Iowa when the streak started at the end of last season, but the rookie has started three games this year. She believes that although the streak was an impressive feat for the goalkeepers, her teammates deserve some of the credit.

“It’s been a team effort, and the defenders are doing really well in front of us,” she said. “Teams haven’t been really threatening us that much because we’ve been able to handle the pressure.”

Hawkeye defenders have allowed only 27 shots through the first four games combined, which has enabled the team to rotate the trio of underclassmen into action.

“We’re all trying to earn our time and prove ourselves, and [the coaches] are letting us do that,” Clark said. “But we’re all really good keepers, so it has been hard to get that spot on the field.”

Iowa head coach Ron Rainey has been equally impressed with each of the goalies this season. He said the three have pushed each other in practice, which has resulted in a fierce battle for the starting spot. 

“It’s been one of our most competitive positions in practice, and that’s why the three of them are getting some playing time,” Rainey said.

The Hawkeyes, though, will need more than just good goalkeeping as they ride I-80 west to Ames for another edition of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series with Iowa State.

Iowa (4-0) is riding a six-match unbeaten streak against the Cyclones (3-1), winning the last four by a combined score of 13-3. The Black and Gold are 7-4-2 all-time against their main rival.

“It’s an in-state rivalry, so obviously we are taking this one very seriously,” sophomore Cloe Lacasse said. “We’re a Big Ten school, and we’re expected to be the best team in Iowa.”

Valparaiso will be awaiting the Hawkeyes when they return to Iowa City — the two will clash on Sept. 2 at the Iowa Soccer Complex.

The Crusaders (0-1-1) have managed only one goal this season, and they are coming off of a 1-0 loss at DePaul on Aug. 26.

Rainey pointed out that his team is looking no further than their date with Iowa State but noted that they’ll be happy to be back on Hawkeye turf against Valpo.

“After two shorter road trips, we’re looking forward to being back home,” Rainey said. “After Iowa State, we’ll do a ton of scouting on Valparaiso come Saturday.”

For Clark and the goaltenders, beating Iowa State and Valparaiso comes first and foremost. But if they can help it, the team’s overall record won’t be the only thing to remain unscathed come Monday.

“We’re focused on trying to keep this [streak] going as long as we can,” Clark said. “We don’t want any goals.”

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