Hawks down Rutgers 1-0


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The Hawkeyes downed No. 23 and fourth-seeded Scarlet Knights, 1-0, in Big Ten Tournament soccer action on Wednesday.

Rutgers, which beat Iowa in a regular-season matchup, was pegged as tough but winnable matchup, and the Hawkeyes responded.

“We came out with a lot of energy, and we did a really nice job defensively against them — I thought we were the better team early on in that game,” head coach Dave DiIanni said. “I liked our effort in the second half, we didn’t allow a goal, and I’m really proud of them,”

Iowa’s lone score of the game came at the 9:02 mark, when midfielder Natalie Kryger cleaned up a corner kick. It gave the Hawkeyes the ever-critical first goal and allowed the team a bit of breathing room.

It turned out to be the only goal of the game, though not for lack of trying. Iowa played ball control throughout much of the first half and looked relatively dominate throughout. This was especially true for junior goalkeeper Hannah Clark, who again had a spectacular game and made 7 saves on the way to her eighth shutout of the season.

“This is the point in the season where there will be times that Hannah has to make saves to keep us in games,” assistant coach Julie Hanley said. “She is a great competitor and expects a lot out of herself and her teammates.”

In fact, Rutgers outshot Iowa 16-9 and while worrisome, 12 of those shots came in the second half, a half played without first-team All-Big Ten selection Melanie Pickert.

The defender crumpled to the turf late in the 37th minute with what appeared to be a very painful leg injury.

“Right now, it’s day-to-day, and they’ve got to figure that out, and right now we’ll plan on her not playing, and if she can, we’ll adjust accordingly,” DiIanni said. “Until we figure that out, Emily Scott will slide down in her place, and we’ll have to make some adjustments.”

If Pickert is not healthy for Friday’s game against Northwestern, it will prove very difficult for the Hawkeyes to advance to the finals.

The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and haven’t lost a game since Oct. 12; they have complied a record of 4-0-2 in that time. They rose from last place in the Big Ten to the eighth spot and grabbed the last seed for the tournament.

Then they upset Penn State, which was not only the No. 1 seed, it was also ranked sixth in the country.

Iowa defeated the Wildcats once this year, but in order to beat them in this matchup, the Black and Gold might have to play one of their finest games of the season.

“I think Northwestern will give us plenty of trouble and the motivation for both our teams is the same — possibly one more win gets either of us in the NCAA Tournament,” DiIanni said. “It’s not so much about us having motivation against Northwestern but for what comes at the end of the tunnel.
“Possibly getting into the Big Ten championship.”

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

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