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Iowa soccer still undefeated, but shutout streak ends

BY TOM CLOS | SEPTEMBER 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s soccer team carried a pair of streaks into the third weekend of the season.

They finally allowed a goal, but they still haven’t lost.

And yet, head coach Ron Rainey wants more.

Sophomore defenseman Melanie Pickert scored the first goal of her career as the Hawkeyes held off Valparaiso, 3-1, at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday.

The victory moved Iowa to 6-0 on the season as well as kept it undefeated in its last 16 nonconference matches dating back to Sept. 17, 2010. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 62-7 during that stretch.

“Valparaiso did a good job of keeping the ball in front of them and getting into a rhythm,” Rainey said. “We did a good job of not letting them in behind us, especially in the first 20, 25 minutes of the second half.”

Rainey was happy his team made it through Sunday unscathed, but he wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s performance. Though the team has had good results, he said, much has remained unfulfilled thus far.

“We have to make sure that if we’re on the field, we’re making plays,” Rainey said. “That’s a challenge for our group right now that we hope gets addressed soon.”

He engaged the group at halftime with a rousing speech that stressed avoiding complacency and being sharper in certain areas of play.

“We’re seeing some moments that we like, but good teams get better week to week,” Rainey said. “If we see anything that bucks a trend of constant improvement, we have to challenge our team to get better.”

Pickert’s goal in the fourth minute was off of a free kick 25 yards out on the right side of the field. She banked her shot off of the top of the far post. The Canton, Mich., native said the improbable goal was something she had been working on.

“Walking up to the ball I was like, ‘Should I shoot this?’ and then I thought, ‘Heck, I’ll just go for it,’” Pickert said. “I’ve been practicing those a lot so it just felt good to see it go in.”

Sophomore forward Cloe Lacasse and senior defenseman/midfielder Dana Dalrymple closed out the scoring for Iowa to keep the team unbeaten in 2012, but the same can’t be said for the Hawkeyes’ goalkeepers.

The team’s 300-plus-day shutout streak died in Ames in the Hawkeyes’ 3-1 victory on Aug. 31. It was first regulation goal against Iowa’s since Oct. 23, 2011, in a 6-1 win over Northwestern.

Freshman goalie Hannah Clark was happy to be 6-0 but not thrilled about the team yielding a pair of goals this weekend.

“It was a mental breakdown from our team,” she said. “It was our fault defensively that we gave the ball up, instead of a good goal by our opponents.”

The shutout streak aside, Sunday capped off a three-week stretch for the Black and Gold in which the Hawkeyes outscored the opposition, 21-2, while outshooting their foes, 119-57.

Rainey continued to ask for more out of his team because he knows that better teams and tougher tasks await.

“We’re just three weeks into the season; we’ve got to get better for week four and week five.” Rainey said. “All of this that we’re doing now should prepare us for the next game.”


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