Iowa soccer wins 2-1 to earn Big Ten berth

BY TOM CLOS | OCTOBER 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Indiana lost to No. 25 Ohio State, 5-0, on Oct. 26, so the task was simple for the Iowa soccer team on Saturday.

Option one: defeat Wisconsin and head to Bloomington, Ind., for the Big Ten Tournament next week. Option two: lose and watch the league event from Johnson County.

Thanks to their best player, the Hawkeyes are packing their bags.

Sophomore forward Cloe Lacasse had 2 points, including the game-winning goal a little less than five minutes into the second half, and Iowa held off the Badgers, 2-1, on Senior Day at the Iowa Soccer Complex.

The victory put the Black and Gold into a tie with the Hoosiers for the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament with 12 points each. Because of the Hawkeyes’ 1-0 victory over Indiana on Sept. 21, Iowa won the tiebreaker and the right to play another day.

“This is huge,” head coach Ron Rainey said. “I’m proud of how we practiced without control of the situation, and then once [Indiana lost], we played well.”

In the final minutes of a slow-starting first half, Lacasse dropped a ball inside the box that was sent through traffic and into the net by senior midfielder Dana Dalrymple.

The underclassman wasn’t done.

Lacasse wove between several defenders before freeing herself and sending a swift kick from 20-yards out through the visiting keeper’s legs to put the Hawkeyes up, 2-0, just 4:55 into the second-half.

“Getting two goals gave us a bit of a buffer, which was nice,” Dalrymple said. “Especially since these conference games tend to always be close.”

Wisconsin didn’t allow any of the 607 people in attendance to breathe easy, though, scoring at 70:38 to cut the deficit to one. But key stops by the Iowa defense and a pair of saves by freshman goalkeeper Hannah Clark were enough to survive.

“It’s very nerve-racking, and maybe we got into protecting the lead a little bit,” Rainey said. “But we ended the game mostly in [Wisconsin’s] half, which is the best way to kill off a game.”

Lacasse daid the atmosphere was hectic on the field during the final minutes of the game with several months of hard work hanging in the balance.

“There are so many emotions going on down the stretch that we just had to stay calm and settle down,” she said. “We had to just keep playing our game.”

The Hawkeyes will enjoy a short break before heading to the league playoff for a matchup with top seed and national No. 4 Penn State on Wednesday. Not many people outside of the program will pick Iowa to walk out of Bloomington with the title, but it didn’t matter to the players after beating the Badgers this weekend.

They were happy to just be given another chance.

“There was a lot of pressure on us coming into this game, and I think we handled it well,” Dalrymple said. “We came out with a win and achieved one of our goals: to make the Big Ten tournament.”

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