Iowa soccer in a scramble for the postseason

In order for the soccer team to extend its season, wins against Michigan and Michigan State this weekend are crucial.


Alex Kroeze

Iowa head coach Dave Diianni talks to his players during the match between Iowa and SIU Edwardsville in Iowa City on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.

James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

The soccer Hawkeyes are in the midst of a Big Ten Tournament hunt — and much of that hunt relies on this weekend.

Head coach Dave DiIanni and his team will host Michigan State (0-5-2) at 7 p.m. today at the Iowa Soccer Complex and Michigan (3-4-0) at 1 p.m. Oct. 14.

Iowa sits at a crossroads. The first eight teams in the Big Ten advance to the postseason tournament, and with a 2-4-1 conference record, Iowa is in a two-way tie for 11th. On top of that, two teams are tied for ninth.

Teams are in a scramble for an appearance in the postseason. Wins against Michigan State and Michigan this weekend could propel the team to seventh or eighth place.

“[The team] has an appreciation that they have put themselves in the mix to be in contention,” DiIanni said. “When you get to the end of the season with two weeks to go, you want to be in the mix.”

RELATED: Iowa soccer wins in an upset against No. 22 Nebraska

The team is in a position for success. DiIanni’s squad is coming off the biggest win for the program since 2013. Last weekend, Iowa topped No. 20 Nebraska, 2-1, displaying the offensive potential that has been missing most of the season.

“The first thing we talked about is that win not being the peak of our season,” DiIanni said. “It’s big for us to build momentum and not lose sight of why we were successful at Nebraska to begin with. It is because for 90 minutes we stayed mentally and physically engaged, and that was important.”

After a couple rough 2-0 losses, the win over the Huskers was an important resurgence.

“We needed something to bounce back,” forward Devin Burns said. “It was rivalry week, and we were all really excited. It shows that we have the potential. We are a really good team, and we can compete with the best teams in the Big Ten.”

But the past is the past for Iowa. DiIanni said it’s time for the team to hone in on cementing its place in the postseason.

“We have a lot of would have, should haves this season, but the win is an affirmation to the process we’re committed to is working,” he said. “We’re only as good as our last game, so we have to perform Friday against Michigan State.”

On top of the Nebraska win, Iowa has thrived on its home turf this season, posting a 5-0-2 record. However patchy the Big Ten season may have been for the Hawkeyes, the team has been consistent at home, where Michigan State and Michigan will have to play.

“We have been pretty good at home this season,” DiIanni said. “But playing at home won’t be enough. We need to continue doing the things we have been doing all year.”

Michigan State may be last in the Big Ten, but it is comparable to Iowa offensively. Both teams average 1.14 goals per game. Michigan, on the other hand, averages 1.71 goals per game.

If the games this weekend don’t go in Iowa’s favor, the postseason will be nearly unobtainable.