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With an incredible 5 goals in Iowa’s first four games, senior forward Cloe Lacasse has taken the brunt of the offensive load, and she leads the team in goals, shots, shots on goal, and points.

Her prowess is almost certainly noticed by other teams — she often draws more than one defender whenever she has the ball.

“Some teams do have different scouting reports on individual players, and we know that coming in, so we work on that,” Lacasse said. “For example, let’s say there is a double-team on me, so it opens things up for someone else in her spot.”

So far, this has been a not as big of an issue, because she is usually fast enough to get herself out of the traps, but that will change once the Hawks leave their comfortable nonconference schedule for the brutal Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes have to improve if they want to use Lacasse effectively, and head coach Dave DiIanni knows it.

“Some of it is us getting in good spots to give her the ball, and other issues are just us being better,” DiIanni said. “We have to be better in the midfield and the other forward position to draw some attention away from Cloe.”

The other forward position that he is referring to is held by sophomore Bri Toelle, and while she has been effective (goal, assist, and 8 shots on goal in four games), her minutes have been limited by injury.

She is one of the major beneficiaries whenever Lacasse draws more than one defender.

Now, it is just about using that advantage in the best way possible, something that she is still learning how to do.

“We changed formations this year, so now we play with two up top, and our jobs are to be very dynamic and getting space between us and our defender,” Toelle said. “That way, our midfielders and backs can find us up top.”

The formation change is a switch to a traditional 4-4-2, which gives Lacasse and Toelle more space to work with as well as more help behind them.

It is a change that has worked well for the team so far, but it will take more than just two forwards scoring goals for this team to have the presence the Hawks want to have in the Big Ten.

The midfielders have to have a presence, and senior captain Melanie Pickert is confident that Lacasse will be more than able to feed them as well.

“Other people will step up, and Cloe knows when to spray it away,” Pickert said. “She’s really good at drawing in defenders, and she knows that when she has two or three on her, she knows to spray it.”

An unselfish approach to the game will be vital to Iowa’s chances in the Big Ten, and with system and personnel changes galore, growing pains will be a factor.

The seniors will be called upon to lead th team, even if they are learning how to adjust their style of play along with the underclassmen.

“It’s a process, but Cloe scored some good goals already because of the system, and because she’s playing like a senior should, with urgency and desire,” DiIanni said. “So are Mel, and Caitlin Brown, and Anne Marie, and Emily Scott — we need others to join in on that drive to be better.”

Follow @JordyHansen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa soccer team.

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