Iowa soccer set for final nonconference matches of 2021

The Hawkeyes play Kansas City and Southeast Missouri State on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa midfielder Hailey Rydberg scores a goal during a soccer game between Iowa and South Dakota on Aug. 7, 2021, at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The Hawkeyes defeated the Coyotes 3-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Iowa soccer will wrap up the nonconference portion of its 2021 schedule this week, traveling to Missouri to play Kansas City University Thursday and hosting Southeast Missouri State Sunday.

The Hawkeyes are 4-1-1 on the season, while both Kansas City and Southeast Missouri State sit at 2-4 overall.

Throughout the nonconference season, DiIanni has seen his team make strides on both sides of the ball.

“I think we have become a lot more cohesive and connected defending as a group,” DiIanni said. “Then, I think that this team is starting to create offensive opportunities and chances from the skill level and the athleticism that we knew they had at the beginning of the year, but some of that just comes from great chemistry with each other.”

On 40 opponent shot attempts this season, the Hawkeyes have surrendered just four goals.

In comparison, Iowa has scored 11 goals on the heels of 101 shots this year. The Hawkeyes did not score a single goal in their first six games in 2020-21.

Nine of Iowa’s 2021-22 goals have come from players that weren’t with the Hawkeye soccer program in 2020-21. Graduate transfer Alyssa Walker and freshman forward Kenzie Roling have scored four goals apiece this season. Graduate transfer Courtney Powell has also put the ball in the back of the net on one occasion in 2021-22.

Despite all their new offensive weaponry, the Hawkeyes have still struggled to score efficiently at times this season. In a Sept. 5 game against Mississippi State, Iowa shot the ball 19 times and scored just once.

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“It’s definitely something that we’re focusing on going into this weekend,” senior midfielder Hailey Rydberg said. “It’s something we focused on in practice [Tuesday]. Just being able to reward ourselves in those moments because we create really good chances, it just comes down to that last touch.”

DiIanni said his Hawkeyes have to make decisions quickly within the 18-yard penalty area if they want to score more efficiently. DiIanni added that his players must recognize the opportunities defenses present them, so they can take what they’re being given.

DiIanni expects Kansas City and Southeast Missouri State to play more defensively than some of the other opponents the Hawkeyes have faced this season.

Southeast Missouri State will be physical and play a lot like Purdue Fort-Wayne, per DiIanni. The Hawkeyes defeated Purdue Fort-Wayne, 5-0, at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City Sept. 2.

Southeast Missouri State is the last nonconference opponent the Hawkeyes will face this season. Iowa will face a stretch of 11-straight conference opponents beginning with Northwestern Sept. 19.

Despite the tough road ahead, the Hawkeyes remained focused on their next two matchups.

“We’re treating these games just as important as the conference games will be,” freshman midfielder Addie Bundy said. “We know we need to come out with wins on top of this weekend to put us in a great spot for conference play in the coming weeks after.”

The Hawkeyes’ matches against Kansas City and Southeast Missouri State will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Sunday, respectively.