Iowa soccer faces Ohio State in regular-season finale

The Hawkeyes have their final regular season game on Sunday before they head to the Big Ten Tournament.

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Iowa soccer faces Ohio State in regular-season finale

Iowa defender Riley Whitaker and Maryland forward Alyssa Poarch fight for the ball during a women's soccer match between Iowa and Maryland at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes shut out the Terrapins, 4-0.

Iowa defender Riley Whitaker and Maryland forward Alyssa Poarch fight for the ball during a women's soccer match between Iowa and Maryland at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes shut out the Terrapins, 4-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defender Riley Whitaker and Maryland forward Alyssa Poarch fight for the ball during a women's soccer match between Iowa and Maryland at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes shut out the Terrapins, 4-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defender Riley Whitaker and Maryland forward Alyssa Poarch fight for the ball during a women's soccer match between Iowa and Maryland at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes shut out the Terrapins, 4-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

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Believe it or not, the last regular-season game for the Iowa soccer team is already here, as it plays Ohio State at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Iowa Soccer Complex.

The Hawkeyes are 14-3-1 overall (6-3-1 in the Big Ten), while the Buckeyes are 4-8-4 overall (2-4-3 in the Big Ten). Their 14 regular-season wins are the most in program history, and they are receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll.

This will not be the last game the Hawkeyes play this season, as they did qualify for the Big Ten Tournament for the second time in three seasons last Sunday when they won at Minnesota in double overtime.

Regardless of this berth, the Hawkeyes will play this game the same way they have been for the past couple of weeks — a tournament win or go home mentality.

“I think that’s created a little bit of an urgency with how we play,” head coach Dave DiIanni said. “It’s getting us physically and mentality prepared to go all-in on every game that we have. I think the other part of it is that we haven’t won anything. We haven’t won any championships. We haven’t won any trophies.”

With this mindset, the Hawkeyes are staying focused on the current day and are not looking too far ahead. They have to get through Ohio State first.

The Buckeyes are still in contention for a Big Ten Tournament berth, as they have two games remaining and are 10th in the conference. The conference tournament includes the top eight teams.

They’ve tied their past two games, which were against Northwestern and Illinois in Columbus.

“Ohio State’s got a lot of similarities with who we played against Minnesota, and you saw how that game went,” DiIanni said. “They are better than their record shows. They are very athletic. They are playing a different system now the past couple of games, which they seem to have a great deal of success with. They are young like we are in some areas and they are experienced like we are in some areas.”

The leading offensive player statistically for the Buckeyes is sophomore forward Kayla Fischer, who has four goals and three assists this season. Junior defender Izzy Rodriguez is another player the Hawkeyes will be focusing on.

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On Sunday, the Hawkeyes are expecting to have to play their best in order to win and are anticipating an incredibly driven and competitive Buckeye team fighting to make the conference tournament.

DiIanni said that the Buckeyes play strong and are in your face defensively, athletic, and are looking to create turnovers as they defend higher in the field.

“It will be a great challenge for us,” DiIanni said.

The Hawkeyes are currently in fifth place in the Big Ten with 19 points. Wisconsin and Michigan are first and second in the conference, respectively, with 22 points. Penn State is third in the conference with 21 points, and Rutgers is fourth in the conference with 19 points, defeating Iowa 1-0 on Oct.11.

The Big Ten quarterfinals take place on Nov. 3 and are hosted by the top four teams in the conference. The Big Ten semifinals are on Nov. 8, and the Big Ten Championship game is on Nov. 10. Both the semifinals and finals are at Rutgers.

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