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Women’s soccer ready for first home game of the season

BY JORDAN HANSEN | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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When the Iowa soccer team takes the field for its home opener against Fresno State tonight, an unfamiliar face will be roaming the Iowa sideline.

His name?

Dave DiIanni (pronounced dee-AWN-ee), and it might be a good idea to remember his name.

He was enormously successful in 11 years at Division-II Grand Valley State, amassing a 221-18-18 record and three NCAA championships during his tenure.

The hope is that success translates upward and will take an up-and-coming program to yet another level.

“One of the reasons that I chose to leave was that I saw a lot of similarities between where I came from and where I’m at now,” DiIanni said. “It’s going to take time to get it to where we need to be for a lot of reasons, but we will work hard every day to do that.”

While Iowa has not been known as a powerhouse Big Ten soccer team, the foundation for success is in the process of being constructed, and DiIanni enters the program following of the most successful season in school history. 

Last year saw Iowa tally 15 wins and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, both school firsts.

The success makes the transition from last year’s coach, Ron Rainey (who took a job at Ivy League school Dartmouth), a bit more difficult, but the overall feeling among players is one of positivity.

“I think we’ve responded very well — Dave has brought a lot of new things and we have been very open-minded, and open to learning, and adjusting to what he wants us to do,” sophomore Amanda Lulek said. “What he wants us to do is very good — it gets me excited to think about where we’ll be in two years.”

The team picking up the adjustments that Lulek refers to are vital for this season to be a success, but DiIanni is working with a roster that he did not build.

One of the major modifications that he intends to make is a less-conservative approach to how the team plays. There have been some injuries to the team, which has put a bit of damper on just how much they can spread the field.

“We’re going to try to open it up and be a little bit more comfortable on the ball, but within reason, based on our roster right now,” DiIanni said. “In the past, they’ve been very successful with a 4-5-1 defense and countering with a few players — we just don’t have those players right now.”

Those injuries are going to cause problems if the persist into conference play, but right now, they serve are being used to expose the team’s weaknesses — another part of his coaching philosophy.

“He wants to expose your weakness, so it doesn’t come out in the game,” senior captain Melanie Pickert said. “With numbers down and our being banged up, you need to be exposed in practice, and when it comes to the game, you feel more comfortable.

“It’s what we need right now.”


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