Iowa soccer picks up exhibition win against Drake, looks to regular season

The Hawkeyes took down the Bulldogs in a commanding performance. Iowa got 22 shots off, with goals from Hailey Rydberg, Elle Otto, and Caroline Halonen.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa forward Ellie Otto battles with Northern Illinois defender Kylie Hermeyer 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 Hawkeyes picked up a 4-0 win over the Drake Bulldogs in an exhibition match on Friday.

Iowa controlled most of the game and outshot Drake, 22-4, with fifth year Hailey Rydberg and graduate transfer Caroline Halonen each contributing a goal. Sophomore Elle Otto notched two goals.

Iowa went into halftime with a 1-0 lead thanks to a third-minute goal from Rydberg, but head coach Dave DiIanni said the Hawkeyes looked far better in the second half than the first.

“I just thought in the first half, we were a little bit undisciplined technically,” DiIanni said. “We gave the ball away a lot, and consequently, because of that, we had to defend out of shape in transition. But I was really happy with the second half. I thought we were grittier. We were better defensively and created a lot of opportunities to score.”

DiIanni said the Hawkeyes had some trouble getting wide in the first half, and the high number of turnovers didn’t help. In the second half, however, they got it turned around.

“We had some success out wide and that opened them up,” DiIanni said. “And that allowed us to vertically play.”

The Hawkeyes had much more control of the game in the second half, holding a lot of possession and tacking on three additional goals, two of which came from Otto in the 50th and 55th minute.

“The ball just really came out … and I just placed it really hard and it just went in. It was super dope,” Otto said, laughing.

“The second one,” Otto continued, “Kyndal [Anderson] flicked it over and I just went full speed and just placed it into the back of the net.”

Halonen tacked on the fourth goal with a touch into space before hitting it past the keeper in the 85th minute.

Big Picture

Iowa struggled with turning the ball over, losing shape on defense, and slow reactions when pressing in the first half. 

But with a combined eight goals in their two exhibition matches against Northern Illinois and Drake, Iowa’s buildup play is promising. While the Hawkeyes missed some finishing opportunities on attack, Iowa has strength in midfield depth.

“It’s so great to see in games like these that we have … a ton of forwards, a ton of mids that are able to help create those chances,” Rydberg said.

Tidy back line

While the Hawkeyes were sometimes out of shape on defense in the first half, they were mostly able to shut down Drake and clean up any chances the Bulldogs managed to create —  a promising follow up to Iowa’s two allowed goals against Northern Illinois on Aug. 7.

What’s Next

Iowa will open up its regular season on Aug. 18 in Westwood, California, against UCLA. After the Hawkeyes’ commanding performance tonight, Otto said she likes Iowa’s chances.

“We’re really excited to play UCLA,” Otto said. “… And I think we have a really good chance of beating them.”

UCLA is coming off a 16-3-1 2021 season with its only loss coming in the NCAA Tournament against UC Irvine. While the Bruins lost their 2021 top scorer, Mia Fishel, they still have returning standouts in junior Reilyn Turner and graduate Maricarmen Reyes.