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Hawks look to improve upon recent play

BY JACOB SHEYKO | SEPTEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa soccer team heads into conference play undefeated. But its play in the last stretch of games has made it apparent that the Hawks have plenty of room for improvement.

The Hawkeyes’ last three matches have been less than stellar performances. Their three games against Wright State, St. Louis, and Northern Iowa have more than likely not been a note that Iowa wished to ride into Big Ten play.

“We need to make sure we’re sticking to what we do well,” head coach Ron Rainey said. “And then rededicate ourselves to the scrappiness that defines the Iowa teams that have done well.”

For a period of time, the Hawks looked unstoppable. They shut out five-straight opponents and looked ready for Big Ten play.

But as the nonconference schedule moved on, the Hawkeyes have begun to look relatively vulnerable.

For some, the changes that need to be made a simple technical changes.

“We’ve been doing a really good job of going from the outside in,” midfielder Anne Marie Thomas said. “We need to make sure were keeping our times right and not getting too crowded in the box.”

On the other hand, some players have looked to not only on-the-field aspects but those off the field as well.

“We need to be mentally focused and get ready,” senior Ashley Catrell said. “I think we need to keep going with our attacking options, because we’ve been creating lots of opportunities — we just have to put them away.”

In many ways these games can be deceiving because of the final scores. But throughout them, the Hawks have kept one thing consistent: their being the more aggressive team in time of possession and shots. Through their last three games, Iowa has outshot its opponents 59-15.

In their last match against Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes outshot the Panthers 26 to 4. Although it took the Hawkeyes until overtime to seal the victory, Rainey thinks the close games better prepare the Hawks for conference play.

“We wanted to get our juices going as we headed into Big Ten play,” Rainey said. “I don’t know if we’ll outshoot a ton of teams in the Big Ten 26 to 4, but there will be a lot of close games like that. So that same type of anxiety level in a game was good.”

The Hawkeyes will kick off Big Ten competition Sept. 22, taking on Michigan at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The game is slated to start at noon.

The Hawks have made it clear that the room for improvement is certainly there, but they say no one should expect any panicking from them.

“The personality of the team is still coming out. Last year, some of the nonconference games were multiple goal games, and this year it hasn’t worked out that way,” Rainey said. “I think the team understands we have to play our best game of the year against Michigan.”


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