The Daily Iowan

Iowa soccer gears up for Big Ten action

After losing two on the road, the Hawkeyes will have to turn their game around in the conference.

Iowa+soccer+player+Kaleigh+Haus+jumps+over+the+ball+as+Hailey+Rydberg+tries+to+center+it+during+a+game+against+Indiana+State+University+on+Sunday%2C+Aug.+26%2C+2018.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Sycamores+1-0.+
Iowa soccer player Kaleigh Haus jumps over the ball as Hailey Rydberg tries to center it during a game against Indiana State University on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Sycamores 1-0.

Iowa soccer player Kaleigh Haus jumps over the ball as Hailey Rydberg tries to center it during a game against Indiana State University on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Sycamores 1-0.

David Harmantas

David Harmantas

Iowa soccer player Kaleigh Haus jumps over the ball as Hailey Rydberg tries to center it during a game against Indiana State University on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Sycamores 1-0.

Michael Whalen, Sports Reporter

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Iowa soccer will begin the Big Ten season this weekend with a focus on capitalizing on opportunities.

A conference road trip is the last thing the Hawkeyes need right now with their record sitting at 4-2-1, but they kick off competition in the Big Ten on Friday at Maryland and Sept. 16 at Rutgers.

Luck on the road hasn’t been abundant; the squad lost its first two games of the season on a road trip this past weekend. Iowa State (1-2) and at Wyoming (0-1) handed the Hawkeyes their two losses of the season.

Iowa outshot both Wyoming and Iowa State in the losing causes, but the team didn’t take advantage of its opportunities.

“We can play a lot of really good soccer and dominate possession, but if you don’t capitalize on your opportunities and you give away bad balls at the back for set pieces and counter situations, then I don’t think you can win any game, Big Ten or not,” head coach Dave DiIanni said.

This has become a common theme for the Hawkeyes. The offense gets opportunities but can’t finish in the box, or the defense gives up goals on set pieces. All 4 goals scored on the defense this season have come from opportunities handed to the opponent (one free kick, one penalty shot, and two corners).

“We need to be a lot safer with the ball in areas we can be opened up and countered … we need to be better defending set pieces,” DiIanni said. “Willingness to battle, grind, and be courageous.”

Last year, the Hawkeyes were 4-5-2 against Big Ten teams, but by defending the ball better and capitalizing on opportunities, Iowa could see an improvement.

“Each game is different; we watch film and practice, so if we can execute what we do, I think we can make a difference,” freshman Hailey Rydberg said.

Mental changes for the team should mean improvement during Big Ten play, even with such a young team, the Hawkeyes believe.

Experience varies quite a bit on the team, with only 13 upperclassmen and 11 true freshmen on the 29-woman roster. The Hawkeyes have proven that the players can work well together when they play their game, despite the age gap, and freshmen are pulling their weight.

Iowa went into its road trip undefeated and came out of the weekend with back-to-back losses. The lesson that the Hawkeyes aren’t indestructable was a good one to get out of the way before Big Ten play, because the competition heats up markedly in the conference.

“I think it’s better now knowing that everyone needs to give a little more, and hopefully, the past two losses show the freshmen that we can’t take a game off” said redshirt junior Kaleigh Haus.

If the Hawkeyes see they need to give 100 percent in nonconference games, they will know they will have to give 110 percent in the Big Ten.

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