Iowa shuts out Illinois 2-0


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After a late collapse against Iowa State on Sept. 5 and a near disaster against Butler on Sept. 1, the Hawkeyes’ play late in games left something to be desired.

On Thursday night, that was not the case for the soccer team, which beat Illinois, 2-0.

“Our biggest thing has been consistency and can we stay committed to the goal and objectives for the game,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “I thought that the keys today would be doing that for 90 minutes — could we stay committed to each other and the system both defensively and offensively?”

It seems that the Hawks’ late-game troubles could be over for the time being, and that will be huge into anything that Iowa does for the rest of the season.

On Thursday, things started off fairly quiet in the first half, and the game was dominated by good defensive play, especially from Illinois.

Senior Cloe Lacasse and sophomore Bri Toelle had shots in the first half but could not capitalize on any of several breakaway opportunities.

The Hawkeye defense, which is now led in part by goalkeeper Hannah Clark, allowed 6 shots in the first half and made enough plays to prevent Illinois from scoring an all-important first goal.

“The defenders threw themselves in front of the ball as they should, and they do a great a job of it,” Clark said. “It feels really good to have the team really back each other up, and we did what we needed to do to get the win.”

Offensively, senior Melanie Pickert scored first for Iowa on a free kick in the 51st minute.

Her chance came after an Illinois player pushed Lacasse down in front of the Illinois goal and was called for a foul.

That small opening was all Pickert needed to give the Hawkeyes the lead.

“We decide what we want to do, and we decide how the other team is playing it, and then we just go from our best option, and I was just like, I’m going to hit it,” Pickert said. “Cloe, being Cloe, was aggressive and draws fouls, and she just set up a good spot.

“That’s what she does, and we get chances off it, and I’m glad I was able to capitalize on it.”

The second goal came from senior Nicole Urban, her first of the season to seal the win for the Black and Gold.

For the Hawkeyes, it was their first Big Ten-opening win since 2007. It was also their first win over Illinois since 2008.

It was also a good day for a program and a huge first Big Ten win for DiIanni. The Hawkeyes moved to 6-1 on the season, with a home game with Northwestern coming up on Sept. 14, the Hawks could see one of the best starts to conference play in a long time.

“It was a team effort today, when we needed to sub some people in to shut some people down, Katharine Woodruff gave us some good minutes,” DiIanni said. “We have tonight to celebrate, and after that, the Big Ten’s way too difficult to be excited — this is just a foundation for us to build on for the year.”

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