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By the Numbers: Iowa soccer’s defense

Iowa’s strong defense is keeping them in conference play.

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By the Numbers: Iowa soccer’s defense

Sophomore Cora Meyer kicks the ball during the Iowa vs. Purdue soccer game on Sept. 20, 2018 at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City. Iowa tied Purdue 1-1 in overtime.

Sophomore Cora Meyer kicks the ball during the Iowa vs. Purdue soccer game on Sept. 20, 2018 at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City. Iowa tied Purdue 1-1 in overtime.

Katie Goodale

Sophomore Cora Meyer kicks the ball during the Iowa vs. Purdue soccer game on Sept. 20, 2018 at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City. Iowa tied Purdue 1-1 in overtime.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Sophomore Cora Meyer kicks the ball during the Iowa vs. Purdue soccer game on Sept. 20, 2018 at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City. Iowa tied Purdue 1-1 in overtime.

Michael Whalen, Sports Reporter

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If someone were to ask if a 1 goal-against average per game is good for a college soccer team, a lot of people would likely say yes. This is the case for the Iowa soccer team through its first 11 games of the season.

The Hawkeyes have 12 goals scored against them this season in 11 games. With a 1.1 goal-against average, Iowa is 11th in goals-against per game. The No. 1 team in that category is Northwestern with 0.4 goals against per game.

With 14 teams in the Big Ten, the difference between the first and last ranked teams is 1.5 goals per game. It can be very easy for teams to drop and climb in the rankings depending on how each team can defend certain set pieces.

Out of the 11 goals against the Hawkeyes, only 2 of them have been on set pieces. Most of the goals came during regular play, off crosses or short shots. Once Cora Meyers stepped in at goal, the number of goals against the Hawkeyes dropped off.

RELATED: Iowa soccer tops Indiana for first Big Ten win

Meyers started her first game against Iowa State, and she has started four games since. In the five games, the team is 1-3-1 and has let in 7 of the 12 goals. That stat may seem like a lot at first glance, but four of the five games she has started have been against Big Ten teams.

Big Ten competition is much tougher than nonconference games. The highest scoring team is Indiana at 2.4 goals per game, and Iowa beat the Hoosiers on Sunday. The Hawkeyes limited Indiana to only 1 goal that game, and that was scored on an uneven fast break.

Head coach Dave DiIanni said counterattacks from opposing teams have been a big problem.

“We’re getting countered on too quickly on our set pieces, and that’s how they scored today,” he said. “Defensively, we have been pretty good. They haven’t scored on the run-a-play at all; we’ve just been getting stretched out recently in set pieces in terms of our shape.”

With a 1.1 goals against average, Iowa also has a 1.1 goals for average in its 11 games, meaning it had the chance to win any game it played. Looking at Penn State and Ohio State, Iowa’s games next week, the Hawkeyes have a solid chance against both of them.

Spectators saw in the game against Indiana that if the Hawkeyes finish their offensive chances, they will win. Indiana is the highest-ranked offensive team in the Big Ten and has a 0.9 goal-against per game, which ranks third. Indiana has been Iowa’s toughest opponent thus far, and it easily handled the Hoosiers.

Iowa has a three-game road trip against Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska in the next two weeks. If the Hawkeyes can keep playing as they have been, they have a decent opportunity to boost their 1-2-1 conference record to at least .500.

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