Hawkeye soccer must win out to save season

BY TOM CLOS | OCTOBER 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa soccer team is in a state of emergency following a five-match winless streak, topped off by a pair of home losses last weekend to Ohio State and Penn State.

They sit in a tie with Indiana and Nebraska at 9 points for the final two spots in the Big Ten Tournament with three games remaining in the regular season, and missing the end of the year bracket would be a disastrous follow-up to last year’s historic campaign.

So the Hawkeyes’ task for the final stretch of the season is pretty black and white.

Win, or else.

It doesn’t matter how they get it, which player scores or who it’s against, the Hawkeyes simply need to add one more to the left column each time they hit the pitch.

“We definitely can’t lose any of these remaining games,” junior forward Ashley Catrell said. “There are big wins up for grabs, and hopefully, we can win all of them.”

It’s an unfortunate situation that seemed inconceivable for the Black and Gold just three weeks ago.

On Sept. 23, Iowa was sitting at 11-1-0 overall and 2-1-0 in the Big Ten thanks to a weekend sweep of Indiana and Purdue at home. The Hawkeyes were getting production at both ends of the field, and the Black and Gold had the look of a legitimate conference title contender.

But they haven’t won a game since, and unless they string together a couple of victories to close the season, they’ll look like nothing but pretenders.

Senior defenseman Dana Dalrymple is desperate to bring a championship to Iowa City before her college career concludes. She said the final stretch of matches will make or break 2012.

“It’s really important for us to get winning results out of these next three games,” Dalrymple said. “They’re pretty crucial for us.”

Iowa (11-3-3, 2-3-3 Big Ten) has an opportunity to get some breathing room and move into sole possession of seventh-place in the Big Ten standings when Nebraska visits the Iowa Soccer Complex today.

The Cornhuskers (6-9-1, 3-5-0) can relate to the Hawkeyes, because they, too, are fresh from suffering a home sweep at the hands of the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions.

“They’re pretty physical and pretty scrappy,” Dalrymple said. “They’ll be a tough opponent, but we can definitely take it to them.”

Iowa head coach Ron Rainey felt that last weekend’s losses were of course disappointing, but said the team has responded positively to the let-downs this past week in practice.

“I think we’re fine; we know that each time you go out you don’t get the game or the weekend back,” he said. “We did some nice things in the games, and some things we need to work on and can learn from.”

Three-straight ties in the middle of the season have proven to come back and bite the Hawkeyes, most notably a draw to conference cellar-dweller Michigan State. It was a stretch in which the team mustered 0 goals in 360 minutes of play and in which 1 goal would have changed a lot in regards to the team’s current predicament.

Dalrymple, however, believes it is unnecessary to look at what could have been. Instead, she said, though things haven’t panned out as planned in her final season, opportunity still lies before her squad.

“We just have to deal with what’s in front of us,” she said. “All we’re focused on is getting wins in these next three games.”

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