Fetty leads Iowa soccer with aggressive mindset

The sophomore midfielder has started 28 of Iowa’s last 30 games.


Casey Stone

Iowa midfielder Rielee Fetty dribbles the ball 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

For Rielee Fetty, being aggressive is just part of playing soccer.

When an opposing player has the ball, she rushes toward them relentlessly and without regard for the distance that separates her from the dribbler.

Fetty never hesitates to slide into a hard tackle and try to force a turnover for Iowa soccer.

“I think being aggressive and working hard is the least that you can do,” Fetty said. “So, I always make sure that I’m giving my 100 percent, whether it’s making a run or going in to tackle or breaking up a play.”

Fetty’s style of play is the epitome of Iowa’s defining blue-collar mentality. The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten with 173 fouls this season. Her 28 fouls are good for a team-high.

“When she makes those strong tackles, it empowers the people around her to then make those strong tackles as well,” senior midfielder Hailey Rydberg said of Fetty. “It’s just a really great momentum-changer, so it’s really good to have that in the middle of the field.”

Rydberg added that Fetty has been changing the momentum of games since she first donned the Black and Gold.

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Fetty’s first career game as a Hawkeye came on Feb. 20 in Iowa’s 2020-21 season-opener against Wisconsin. The midfielder from Clarkston, Michigan, entered the game at the midway point of the first half.

While she was on the field, Fetty impressed her teammates and coaches enough to earn a spot in Iowa’s starting lineup for the rest of the 2020-21 season. Fetty has also started in 12 of Iowa’s first 13 games in the fall 2021 season.

Despite Fetty’s feisty nature on the pitch, Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said she is one of the most team-oriented, considerate, thoughtful, and passionate players on the Hawkeyes’ roster.

“I definitely like to put other people before myself and I want to make sure that everyone’s OK, whether it’s on or off the field,” Fetty said. “I do a lot of behind-the-scenes work, if that makes sense. I think I’m viewed as a leader, which is definitely through my actions, but it goes deeper. So, I lead by example a lot, and I think other girls not only look up to that but try to follow along and try to replicate that almost.”

DiIanni said Fetty has a greater tactical understanding of soccer now than she did when she joined the program last season.

“We might not need her to get a yellow card or blow that player up physically in a tackle,” DiIanni said. “Sometimes, it’s just about dropping off and hiding space and she wants to be able to tackle and stop the ball all the time and that sometimes requires her to sit and not disconnect the backline.”

In her 30 career matches, Fetty has yet to tally a goal or an assist. So, this season, she’s been working on her attacking. She’s registered nine shots in 2021-22 — one more than she produced in 17 games last season.

Against Purdue Sept. 26, Fetty fired off four shots, including one on-goal.

While Fetty has worked hard to play at such a high level, she also attributes her success to the encouragement of her teammates.

“The whole team has been very empowering as well,” Fetty said. “Even the girls on the bench just cheering me on, that means more than they’ll ever know.”

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