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Hawkeye soccer sweeps state of Michigan

After sweeping the state of Michigan, Iowa soccer is that much closer to the Big Ten Tournament.

Players+fight+for+a+cross+during+Iowa%27s+game+against+Michigan+at+The+Hawkeye+Soccer+Complex+on+Sunday%2C+Oct.+14%2C+2018.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Wolverines+1-0.
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Hawkeye soccer sweeps state of Michigan

Players fight for a cross during Iowa's game against Michigan at The Hawkeye Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines 1-0.

Players fight for a cross during Iowa's game against Michigan at The Hawkeye Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines 1-0.

Nick Rohlman

Players fight for a cross during Iowa's game against Michigan at The Hawkeye Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines 1-0.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Players fight for a cross during Iowa's game against Michigan at The Hawkeye Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines 1-0.

James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

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Iowa soccer is on a roll — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The team earned six crucial points in the Big Ten standings with a win against Michigan State on Oct. 12 and another win against Michigan on Oct. 14.

Prior to this weekend’s events, Iowa was in a three-way tie for ninth. After the Oct. 12 game against the Spartans, the Hawkeyes moved into another three-way tie for eighth. Now, after topping top-8 contender Michigan, Iowa in a tie for seventh-place with Minnesota, with 13 team points.

Earning that ranking was not easy for the Hawkeyes. Michigan and Michigan State held Iowa to 1 goal each, but the Hawkeye defense was steadfast. Michigan was held to 7 shots on goal, and Michigan State had 6. Iowa combined to outshoot both teams, 28-13.

“We’ve been pretty sound defensively,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “And that’s been equal to our success as a team. I’m a big ‘defense wins championships’ kind of guy.”

Michigan was quick to attack the Hawkeye defense on Sunday, putting a shot on goal in the sixth minute. Strong defenses held the game scoreless up to the half.

But Iowa came in with a new game plan after the second whistle. Devin Burns found the Michigan defense flat in the 51st minute and chipped the keeper, scoring the game-winning goal.

“I was thinking maybe I should take a touch, but I’d get screamed at by Dave if I did that,” Burns said. “I knew to just take a little touch and just chip it over.”

RELATED: Iowa soccer in a scramble for the postseason

Following the goal, Iowa’s keeper Claire Graves went untested as the defense held the Michigan forwards at bay.

The win over Michigan marked three Big Ten wins in a row after starting the season with consecutive Big Ten losses.

Iowa was much more offensive against the Spartans on Oct. 12. Michigan State keeper Reilley Ott made 4 saves, and the Spartan defense was swarming. But nonetheless, Iowa’s Hailey Rydberg found the back of the net in the 64th minute with a game-winning strike on an assist from Natalie Winters.

Graves recorded a save just three minutes later to hold the Iowa lead.

“It’s exciting to see us starting to peak,” Graves said. “It’s critical that this happens at this point in the season so we can win some postseason games.”

Iowa will play Minnesota in Minneapolis on Thursday to break the tie for seventh. The Hawkeyes will then return home on Oct. 21 to close the regular season against Northwestern.

Iowa needs to stay within the top-8 to make an appearance in the Big Ten Tournament. But the Hawkeyes have a plan to do so.

“Winning is a habit is something we’ve been saying,” Graves said. “Hopefully, we continue this winning streak and come out with the same mentality we’ve had the past three games.”

The weekend sweep gives Iowa some breathing room.

“Just keep winning,” Burns said. “We know how important it is to not just get into the Big Ten — but to get a higher seed.”

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About the Writer
James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

Email: [email protected]

James “Jim” Geerdes is a sports reporter, digital producer, and designer. He is currently  a sophomore. He spent...

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