Bri Toelle finds her role at Iowa


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As with each arrival of a new season, new players step up to fill the roles of those who left the previous season. This is the case for the Iowa soccer team.

Players who once were not as involved are suddenly integral factors in whether the Hawks win. Sometimes, those roles are filled by incoming freshmen such as Bri Toelle, whose playing time hadn’t increased until recently. But now that it has, she’s making the most of it.

“She has a good attacking mindset. She’s feels comfortable taking some people on one on one, looking to beat people,” Iowa head coach Ron Rainey said. “She’s played some serves in the box and things like that which we need out of our attackers.” 

Early in the season, Toelle typically saw anywhere 15 to 30 minutes per game. But as the Big Ten season rolled around, that number increased to the high 30s per match and eventually culminated in Toelle getting her first college start.

The start was one to remember for Toelle. The match lasted slightly more than 105 minutes as the Hawkeyes downed Michigan State in double overtime. In her 86 minutes of action, she attempted 3 shots — two were on target.

“It was definitely exciting; there were a lot of emotions that were added into it,” she said. “I think I’ve been working hard, and I was excited to get out there and prove that I could get the job done.”

On the season, Toelle has scored twice for the Hawkeyes and made 2 assists. Her teammates see several reasons that Toelle has found her way into the starting lineup.

“It’s different coming from club soccer to the college level. It’s a lot higher intensity,” forward Cloe Lacasse said. “Bri has been getting her level up, so it’s obviously going to increase her playing time.”

Another aspect is the transition to college sports — a problem that every freshman faces in her first year.

“[The coaches] have been telling me that this league at the Big Ten level is a whole lot different, especially aggression wise,” Toelle said. “I just have to make sure that I’m being strong and going into hard tackles, just being smart on the ball.”

Something not often thought about but an aspect that helps Toelle see the field more is her left-footedness. This makes Toelle perfect to play left forward for the Hawkeyes. Whereas a right-footed forward would be shooting or crossing with her off-foot, Toelle feels natural in the position.

“It isn’t something you see very often,” Lacasse said. “It’s good to have a left-footed player on the left side, crossing her in and getting shots in with her dominant foot.”

This advantage played out on the field in Iowa’s latest match when the Hawks took on Indiana on Oct. 12 — Toelle’s second start of her career.

For the Hawks’ first score of the game, Toelle took the ball up the left side of the field and crossed it to Lacasse, who finished inside the left post. It was a play that might not have been possible had Toelle been right-footed.

With another three years remaining at Iowa following this season, Toelle has room for improvement. That being said, plays like the one at Indiana are something that the Hawkeyes are hoping to see many more times before she finishes her career at Iowa.

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