Hawkeye soccer looks for a rebound after Illinois loss
Iowa women’s soccer head coach Ron Rainey has seen just about everything from his team so far this season.
The seventh-year head coach witnessed a four-game shutout streak to start the schedule, a sweep of his squad’s two in-state rivals, a goalie tandem that has stopped nearly everything that comes at them, and the best start to a season in program history.
There’s one thing Rainey has not witnessed, though: how his players respond coming off a loss.
Now, he’ll get that chance.
His squad was outworked on both ends of the field in a 2-1 defeat to Illinois in their Big Ten opener on Sunday. The Hawkeyes were held under 2 goals for the first time this season and are now left doing something they haven’t yet in 2012: trying to rebound.
“We didn’t play very well at all on Sunday,” sophomore midfielder Katie Nasenbenny said. “We were pretty disconnected.”
Rainey felt his squad handled its first loss of the season better than he expected. He said the initial response from his players was encouraging and his team’s first practice following the defeat was the best he’s seen this year.
“[The players] have probably responded better than I did to the loss,” Rainey said. “They are all ultra-competitive, but resilient.”
The head coach noted that every team faces adversity one way or another over the course of an entire season, and pointed out that it was foolish for anyone to expect a team to be perfect at this level.
“Teams just don’t go undefeated through a season,” Rainey said. “That’s really true with any team, but especially when you play in the Big Ten.”
Senior midfielder Dana Dalrymple knew a perfect season was improbable, but still couldn’t get over the finish in Champaign. She saw Sunday as not only a golden opportunity missed but also a learning experience that served as a harbinger of things to come.
“We definitely could have come out of Illinois with a win,” Dalrymple said. “But we didn’t and now have to realize that all of our games will be close and tough like that throughout the Big Ten season.”
Iowa’s response to the loss begins today when the Hawkeyes (9-1-0, 0-1 Big Ten) play host to Indiana at the Iowa Soccer Complex.
The Hoosiers (5-2-1, 0-1) were shut out in their conference opener, 3-0, at Michigan on Sept. 15. Indiana goalkeeper Shannon Flower has allowed 1.62 goals per game this season, helping the Hoosiers rank last in the conference in goals allowed.
Rainey knows the Indiana match will be tight, as most league games are.
“We’re at a point in the season where we won’t be able to create nine, 10, or 11 chances in a Big Ten game,” Rainey said. “You’re talking more like five to six good chances for both sides, and then it comes down to who can finish well or who can make a play to save a goal.”
Iowa will wrap up the weekend when it welcomes Purdue to Iowa City on Sept. 23. The Boilermakers (5-2-1, 0-1) also came up empty to start league play, losing 2-1 at Michigan State on Sunday.
Indiana and Purdue combined to go 6-14-1 in the Big Ten last season, presenting perhaps the best opportunity for the Hawkeyes to move on from the disappointment in Champaign. The weekend also gives Dalrymple and her teammates a good chance to give their head coach something else he hasn’t seen in 2012: a conference victory.
“Illinois was a tough loss, but we’ve gotten after it in practice,” Dalrymple said. “We took time to look at film and see what we needed to work on, and now we’re just looking forward to this weekend.”
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