No room for error


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With the regular season in the books, the Hawkeye soccer team has no more room for error as it enters the Big Ten Tournament as a fifth seed and looking for a few wins to build its NCAA Tournament résumé.

A loss to Rutgers, the fourth seed, means that Iowa’s season, for all intents and purposes, is done. That was the message Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni seemed to emphasize as he readied his team for the rigors of the tournament.

“We need to go into the Big Ten Tournament with a ‘We can’t lose’ attitude, because we do probably need two more wins to get into the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “If we do that, then good things can happen, but we have to have that mindset for 90 minutes.”

For the team, the big stage is not new. Iowa fought all the way to the Big Ten Tournament title game in 2013, losing to Nebraska in the final.

That memory strikes a chord with the team, and returning to the final has been a goal since the very beginning of the year.

“We’ve had a really good season so far, and we’re proud of how we have done, but we have a lot coming forward that we set goals for at the beginning of the year,” junior Sarah Mazur said. “Making the Big Ten Tournament, ideally winning it as poetic justice from last year.”

Winning the whole thing is certainly the primary goal, but the Hawkeyes still continues to take the one-game-at-a-time approach they have taken throughout the season.

That will be critical as they attempt to take care of business against the Scarlet Knights, a team that Iowa dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to during the regular season.

“We know what we need to do to defend against them, we just have to do it for the entire game,” senior Melanie Pickert said. “There was a five-minute drop-off in the [Sept. 28] game against Rutgers in which we allowed them to take seven shots.

“That’s unacceptable, and we know that we can defend well and what we need to do to beat them.”

It was a loss in which the Hawkeyes believed they were the better team for the majority of the game but could not get the offense going — an Achilles heel that they now feel they have overcome.

After sputtering through the midseason, senior Cloe Lacasse and the rest of the offense have been playing well and could very likely spur the Hawks to return to the title game.

“From the time that we played Rutgers the first time and now, we’re a different team,” Lacasse said.

“We have changed offensively and we know our strengths and our weaknesses, and hopefully, that will work to our asset.”

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