Iowa soccer begins season with exhibition victory over Northern Illinois

The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies in their first exhibition match of the season at the Iowa Soccer Complex thanks to goals from Hailey Rydberg, Josie Durr, and Caroline Halonen, who notched two.

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Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa midfielder Caroline Halonen chases the ball down the field during a soccer game between Iowa and Northern Illinois at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 4-2.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter


The Iowa soccer team began its 2022-23 schedule on Sunday with a 4-2 exhibition victory at home over Northern Illinois.

The Hawkeyes controlled most of the 90-minute match, which was divided into three 30-minute periods. 

Iowa counted goals from seniors Hailey Rydberg and Josie Durr, as well as graduate transfer Caroline Halonen, who scored twice.

Halonen also notched an assist, getting her head on the end of a cross and directing it across the face of goal to Josie Durr, who knocked it in.

Halonen, who played at Division II Northern Michigan throughout her undergraduate career, said she’s had to make some adjustments at the Division I level. 

“It’s definitely a lot faster paced,” Halonen said. “I think I’ve had to make transitions in finding ways to get the ball off my foot faster and find myself in better spaces to get the ball.”

Head coach Dave DiIanni was impressed by Halonen’s Hawkeye debut.

“She’s just a smart player who can play a lot of different places and scored twice, but actually probably created three or four more chances,” DiIanni said. 

Durr, who tore her ACL exactly one year ago in a preseason scrimmage against South Dakota, scored Iowa’s second goal of the contest. 

The Solon, Iowa, product said her knee felt strong in her return to the pitch.

“Scoring a goal was obviously a great way to build my confidence back up and get me going again,” Durr said. “I was just excited to play. It had been so long, so just being able to get back onto the field was nice.”

Durr said she has gotten back into the rhythm of competing and practicing quicker than she expected to. 

“I feel like I picked it up faster than I thought I was going to … but I got a lot of growing to do, a lot of things I can still improve on,” Durr said. “So I think [it’s a] great way to start but there’s a lot more I can build off of.”

DiIanni said he’s happy to have Durr back and that she seems to be the same player she was before getting injured last season.

But as Durr returned to the field, junior Maggie Johnston sustained an injury in the first period and was seen on crutches during the first intermission.

DiIanni isn’t sure of the severity of Johnston’s injury as of Sunday.

“I think Maggie will probably be out for a bit,” DiIanni said. “But we’ll find out for sure on Tuesday.”

RELATED: Iowa soccer’s Maggie Johnston perseveres through adversity

Overall, DiIanni said he liked the chances his team created but was disappointed with the goals Iowa gave up.

He said the Hawkeyes lost control of the game during a 10-minute window in the second period in which the Huskies scored both of their goals. 

“I thought we improved as the game went on,” DiIanni said. “I thought honestly, we scored four goals, but probably should have seven or eight.”

DiIanni noted the defensive issues and problems finishing on attacks are all fixable with film study. 

“This group is very hungry to learn and get better and they’re very coachable,” DiIanni said.

The Hawkeyes will face Drake in their second and final exhibition game on Aug. 12 in Iowa City.

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