Iowa soccer builds with restricted roster during spring practice

The Hawkeyes are low on players during their spring practice schedule, but they’re still working toward improving their offense.


Casey Stone

Iowa forward/midfielder Kenzie Roling runs to gain possession of the ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Michigan State at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Michigan State defeated Iowa 2-1.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Despite a restricted roster during spring practice, the Iowa soccer team is attempting to build off its fourth-place Big Ten finish from last fall.

The Hawkeyes dressed just 12 players for their Saturday exhibition contest against University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the Iowa Soccer Complex. With only one substitute, Iowa took a 2-0 victory over Milwaukee — a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot of adversity with injuries and things,” forward Kenzie Roling said following the game. “So, kind of learning how to play through that and still keep up intensity while maintaining some sort of energy. I thought we did really well today and got a couple goals and a lot of opportunities, which is what we’ve been working on all spring.”

Roling is the Hawkeyes’ retuning leading scorer from the fall 2021 campaign. Even after missing multiple games because of illness, she tallied six goals.

Roling said a focus for the Hawkeyes during the spring season is taking risks. Iowa knows it is strong in the backfield, Roling said, as it averaged one goal allowed per game in the fall. But the Hawkeyes want to improve on their 1.55 goals scored average — one that ranked eighth-best in the conference in 2021.

“Kenzie is the type of player that has to be aggressive, has to take risks, and is successful because of that,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “I think as she does that, the team follows that, and so we want her to be able to take chances and lead the game in shots.

Roling took a risk on Saturday when she forced herself into a one-on-one at midfield, bringing the ball downfield until striking it into the net.

The Hawkeyes have fared with limited athletes during the spring season by using men practice players. DiIanni is hoping to get through the next few weeks of the season uninjured while his incoming players get experience and adjust to new roles.

DiIanni, entering his ninth season leading the Black and Gold, said he expects some of the roster to become available as they continue their spring schedule.

Defender Cassidy Formanek was out of town for her sister’s wedding on Saturday. She should be back next Saturday when Iowa faces Arkansas in St. Louis. DiIanni also said that midfielder Natalie Massa, center midfielder Molly Gervase, and forward Meike Ingles should be back by the end of the spring.

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“As we get a couple players back, we’re going to be able to play more aggressively in the main pressing and hopefully be a bit more versatile in how we play,” DiIanni said.

Following their exhibition versus Arkansas, the Hawkeyes will return to Iowa City to face Drake on April 15, and then cap off the spring at Missouri on April 23. The Hawkeyes open the regular season at UCLA on Aug. 18, with their home opener on Aug. 25 against Kansas.

“We’re all about trusting the process,” Roling said. “So, just continue to get better, and we’re right there. Like, there was a lot of opportunities where just one more pass or just a little bit better finish would create a lot more goals. So, I think looking forward to scoring a lot more goals.”

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