Iowa soccer set for back-to-back home games

The Hawkeyes play Purdue-Fort Wayne Thursday and Mississippi State Sunday.


Casey Stone

Iowa Midfielder Hailey Rydberg runs the ball down the field during the Iowa Soccer senior day game against Purdue on Mar. 28, 2021 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Iowa defeated Purdue 1-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

The Iowa soccer team suffered its first loss of the 2021-22 season earlier this week. Coming into their Aug. 29 matchup against Kansas, the Hawkeyes were 3-0.

Since then, the now-3-1 Hawkeyes have returned to Iowa City, Iowa, from Lawrence, Kansas, with a little more wisdom than they had before their trip west.

“I think that we learned that every moment during the game is very powerful,” Hawkeye forward Alyssa Walker said following Iowa’s overtime loss to Kansas. “And we’ve got to stay checked in all 90 minutes.”

With their 1-0 loss to the Jayhawks now behind them, the Hawkeyes intend to sharpen their skills before they take on 1-0-3 Purdue-Fort Wayne and 2-2 Mississippi State at the Iowa Soccer Complex at 6 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Sunday, respectively.

Senior midfielder Hailey Rydberg said the Hawkeyes will pay particularly close attention to their pivot plays at practice this week — as they have throughout this season.

“I think that our midfield has the ability to do that as well, and especially with our dynamic movement up top, it’s really important to get those players involved,” Rydberg said. “So, one thing we’ve really been working on is being able to switch the point of attack quickly before the defenders shift into those spaces so that we can become more dangerous.”

In addition to their internal examination, the Hawkeyes have begun to do some scouting on their next two opponents. According to Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni, Purdue-Fort Wayne and Mississippi State are two very different teams.

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“I think [Purdue-Fort Wayne] is going to be a little bit more direct, a little bit more defensive in nature,” DiIanni said. “We’re going to have to be sharper technically and move the ball quickly because we’re probably going to be playing in less space.

“Mississippi State is going to be a typical SEC team,” he added. “They’re going to be very athletic, very open in how they play, and so we’re going to have to be a little bit smarter in how we play defensively so that we don’t get exposed individually. But I also think they’re going to give us opportunities to play the counter.”

Before they play Iowa Sunday, Mississippi State will take on Minnesota Thursday at 1 p.m. in Minneapolis. Iowa and Minnesota are the only Big Ten teams on the Bulldogs’ schedule.

Iowa’s games against Purdue-Fort Wayne and Mississippi State will mark the first time the Hawkeyes play back-to-back home games this season. Iowa will play four of its next five games at home.

“Just really excited to see what we can do,” Rydberg said. “I’m excited to be back at home. I think that’s going to be really great for the players. Just have to travel all those long bus hours, but we’re ready to get back at it.”

Iowa’s next two games will stream live on BTN+. Spectators are also able to watch the Hawkeyes in-person at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Admission to Iowa soccer games is free.