Iowa soccer ready for its biggest challenge yet

Iowa’s first road game of the season will be a test for a squad with plenty of fresh faces.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Anna Frick navigate's the field during a soccer match between Iowa and Missouri at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes drew the Tigers, 0-0.

James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

Iowa soccer hits the road for a match against No. 22 Washington State today in a neutral-site game at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in Minneapolis in what will be the squad’s biggest test to this point.

Still, head coach Dave DiIanni’s players feel ready for the challenge.

“It’s a very good opportunity for us to see what the top 25 has to offer across the country,” DiIanni said. “For us as a program to get better, we have to play those types of teams as a measuring stick to see where we’re at both individually and as a team.”

After a solid opening weekend against a physical Missouri and a lower-tier Creighton, the Hawkeyes have proved they’re ready. Iowa’s defense remained strong against Mizzou, forcing a 0-0 tie, while its offense showed promise against Creighton in a 2-0 win.

“We had a great opening weekend at home,” center back Morgan Kemerling said. “It gave us a little momentum push to get this season started. I think Friday will be a true test of how we travel. Now we’re on the road against Washington State, which will be a good test for us.”

With 4 points and two shutouts under its belt this early in the season, Iowa is in prime position to continue its successes against a talented Cougar squad.

“They’re a very athletic team — I think very sophisticated, athletic team,” DiIanni said. “Their front five players are very dangerous if we give them time and space to play. And they’re very athletic in the back. They don’t have very many holes. For us, we match up well with them if we can dictate the style of play.”

That style of play starts with the defense. Kemerling, a team captain and senior, leads a solid backline. But the defense has hurdles to overcome even after posting two shutouts in the opening weekend.

DiIanni and his squad switched from a four-person back line to a three-person in the offseason, which relies on outside midfielders to drop down and help Kemerling and her line defend. The transition has seemingly been smooth the first weekend of play, but Washington State will test the change.

“We switched from a 4-back to a 3-back defense, so it was a bit of a learning curve for us,” Kemerling said. “But once we figured it out, letting everyone know where they should be, it’s worked out for us.”

Washington State opened its season 2-0-0, with wins over Seattle and Grand Canyon.

Iowa will return home on Aug. 26 to meet Indiana State at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Indiana State is 0-1-1 through two matches this season.

Indiana State head coach Julie Hanley is three years removed from being an assistant coach at Iowa. Five current Hawkeyes — Kaleigh Haus, Kemerling, Jenna Kentgen, Karsen Rauch, and Rose Ripslinger — played under her during her final season.

Iowa will likely be without top scorers Devin Burns and Olivia Feigal in this weekend’s contests after they missed the opening weekend with injuries. A release from Hawkeye athletics said they are both expected to return in the coming weeks.

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