Iowa soccer opens Big Ten Tournament against No. 4 Penn State

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

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The Iowa soccer team rebounded just in time to save its season on Oct. 27.

The Hawkeyes held off Wisconsin, 2-1, to clinch a spot in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament on the final day of the regular season.

Now this weekend, they are three victories away from claiming the Hawkeyes’ first-ever league title.
But to be the best come Nov. 4, the Hawkeyes have to beat the best today.

Iowa will attempt to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent history as No. 4 Penn State awaits in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., today.

The Nittany Lions (16-2-1, 10-1-0 Big Ten) arrive in Indiana as the top seed in the conference bracket and winners of 15-consecutive Big Ten regular-season titles. They are riding a 12-match unbeaten streak, which includes a 2-1 victory in Iowa City on Oct. 14.

That day, the Hawkeyes (12-5-3, 3-5-3) outworked Penn State to a 23-15 advantage in shots, as well as an 8-4 edge in corner kicks. The teams played to a 1-1 tie through the first half, though, and the Black and Gold couldn’t capitalize on numerous chances in the second half.

Penn State eventually did and escaped with a win.

“We have to realize that we earned Penn State’s respect from the last time we played them,” Iowa head coach Ron Rainey said. “So we’re going to have to play that much better than we did to compete with them on Wednesday.”

Senior midfielder Dana Dalrymple was proud of the way her group fared against the Nittany Lions the first time around. She noted the fortitude the Black and Gold gained from the 1-goal defeat.

“We’re feeling pretty confident because we played so well against them the last time,” she said. “We’re definitely capable of doing well and beating them.”

Rainey said that even though his team played what he referred to as its best game of the year against Penn State, they did catch the Nittany Lions at a fortunate time that afternoon.

“We can take away that there are some good reps of us on film from that game,” he said. “But we realize that was the back end of a road trip for them, and they are the best in the conference.”
Something Penn State didn’t see that day was a fully healthy Cloe Lacasse.

The sophomore forward was in the middle of an ankle injury at the time, but she rebounded to score Iowa’s lone goal of that match as part of a team-leading 7-shot performance in only 69 minutes of action.

The Hawkeyes’ leading-scorer, who is healthy this time around, said her squad is prepared for another crack at the conference’s top program.

“We’re ready to take on any team,” she said. “Whether it be Penn State, Ohio State or anyone, we’re going to do the best we can.”

Iowa snapped a seven-game winless streak with its victory over the Badgers last weekend, breathing life back into what looked like a punchless team.

“Our team believes that we can compete against the teams in this conference,” Rainey said. “And if you look at all of the teams in the tournament, any of the eight can win it.”

Still, to emerge from Indiana with a championship in tow, the Hawkeyes will have to pull off a magical three-day run through one of the toughest conferences in America.

And it’ll have to start with conquering one of the toughest teams in the country.

“Penn State is the class of the league,” Rainey said. “We’ll have to play our best game by far to be competitive.”

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