Iowa soccer graduate transfer Alyssa Walker giving Hawkeyes offensive boost

The transfer forward from Richmond fit in with the Hawkeyes right away, notching four goals in six games.


Casey Stone

Iowa forward Alyssa Walker attempts to score a goal during the Iowa Soccer game against Purdue-Fort Wayne on Sep. 2, 2021 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Iowa defeated Purdue-Fort Wayne 5-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

When Iowa played Richmond in 2017, Hawkeye graduate transfer Alyssa Walker was a sophomore on the Spiders’ roster.

Walker left the 5-1 Iowa win impressed with the Hawkeyes’ competitiveness and talented style of play.

Three years later, Walker entered the transfer portal after graduation, and Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni reached out to the former Spiders forward — one who led Richmond with 11 goals and 25 points in 2019.

After DiIanni explained how she could fit in the Hawkeyes’ style of play, Walker discovered Iowa had a master’s program that fit her interests — social work.

So, Walker decided to use her sixth year of eligibility with the Hawkeyes before she even stepped foot in Iowa City.

Walker received an extra season of eligibility because of an injury that forced her to miss the entire 2018 season. The NCAA gave all 2020-21 student-athletes another season of eligibility because of COVID-19.

“I was really excited to be able to develop myself as a player and play with a higher level of a team and compete with higher level players,” Walker said. “Iowa just seemed to be the right fit to really get going and help me develop as a player.”

When the graduate transfer started practicing with the Hawkeyes in August, her teammates welcomed her with open arms.

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“The moment she got here, it was like we’ve known her for years,” senior midfielder Hailey Rydberg said. “She just has that contagious, energetic personality. I mean she’s already friends with everyone on the team, and I think that’s such a great thing for our team chemistry.”

Though Walker has proven herself as a force on Iowa’s front field — she is tied for the most goals on the Hawkeyes with four — she constantly tries to get better and critiques herself on film.

Before she scored two goals against Purdue-Fort Wayne on Sept. 2, DiIanni said she spent about 25 minutes that morning working on finishing plays.

Walker, along with graduate transfer Courtney Powell and freshman Kenzie Roling, has provided a boost to a Hawkeye program that averaged 0.65 goals a game last season.

Now, the Hawkeyes are averaging 1.83 goals through six games in fall 2021.

“I think she’s a natural goal scorer,” DiIanni said. “I think she’s very athletic, and I think she’s one of our best players in the air on set pieces and on wide service.”

Rydberg likes how Walker can make long runs down the field — the duo have chemistry in which they can anticipate each other’s next move. Rydberg has been credited with an assist on two of Walker’s goals in 2021.

Walker is working on a master’s degree in social work, as she is interested in working on the connection between athletes and their mental health. But Walker isn’t planning on using her degree right after graduation — she wants to pursue a professional soccer career following her time at Iowa.

“My dream is to play in Europe,” Walker said. “I am not picky on where that might be. Two of my passions are being able to travel and being able to keep playing the sport that I love.”

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