Commentary: Iowa soccer's season a success thus far
In the beginning of the season, the soccer Hawkeyes set out to prove that they were among the top teams in the Big Ten. Fourteen games into the season, they have done just that.
Iowa has five games remaining on its regular season schedule. With how things have gone this season, the Hawks may already have reasons to celebrate.
First, we’ll get to the record. The Hawks are 11-3-0 overall, 3-3-0 in conference play. Of the Hawks’ three losses, two of them were 1-goal losses to No. 10 Michigan and No. 17 Nebraska.
This mark of 11 wins is one win away from their total last year and two away from the program’s record of 13 wins in a season set in both the 1999 and 2011 seasons.
With five games remaining in the schedule, there’s a possibility that this year’s squad could set the record. To accomplish this, the Hawkeyes need to win three of their final five matches.
How have the Hawks got to this point? The short answer would be their defense.
The defense has anchored this squad throughout the season. The Hawks are third among Big Ten teams in both total goals allowed and goals allowed per game. In Iowa’s 14 games played, it has only allowed 11 goals — amounting to an average of 0.79 goals per game.
Possibly the most impressive aspect of this defense is not just limiting their opponents scoring but how the squad is accomplishing it. The Hawks aren’t relying on goalkeeper Hannah Clark to make spectacular saves in order to bail them out. Instead, the defense rarely even gives opponents the hope of scoring.
Iowa ranks 10th in the Big Ten with 48 saves this season. This is so because Hawkeye opponents have shot 136 times this season, compared with the 225 shots that the Hawks have attempted.
This defensive dominance had been showcased throughout the Hawks Big Ten best seven shutouts this season. The team record for shutouts in a season is 10, set by last season’s squad.
This doesn’t mean that the Hawk offense has been irrelevant, though. The Hawks do boast the impressive claim of not being shut out this season — something not all Big Ten teams can claim.
The Hawks 23 goals scored this season ranks eighth among Big Ten teams. But what they lack in firepower, they make up for in balance. Eight Hawkeyes have scored thus far this season, leaving teams unable to focus on one individual.
While the season so far has been a success, the road ahead is difficult. Of the Hawkeyes’ final five games, their opponent’s records are a combined 43-18-8 — including a matchup with No. 21 Minnesota and No. 5 Penn State.
What will ultimately determine how the Hawks finish the season is how they perform in 1-goal games. The Hawkeyes’ last eight games have been 1-goal games, bringing the total to 11. They have won eight of those 11.
How the Hawks perform in these final games could go a long way into determining whether this season will be looked upon like the last two or whether the Hawks will meet their preseason goal of making the NCAA Tournament.
In today's issue: