Iowa soccer gains depth with injured players returning, freshmen starting

With three veteran players returning to the field and freshmen receiving playing time, the Hawkeyes are gaining depth as the year goes on.


Grace Smith

Iowa midfielder Kellen Fife passes the ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Kansas at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. The Jayhawks defeated the Hawkeyes, 1-0. Fife played for 69 minutes and had one shot on target.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

With freshmen receiving heavy playing time and injured players returning, Iowa soccer is gaining depth early in the season.

Injuries hit the Hawkeyes hard, as sophomores Kenzie Roling and Addie Bundy, and junior Maggie Johnston, all missed time with various afflictions.

Additionally, junior goalkeeper Macy Enneking has been out since she was injured at Cal Poly on Aug. 21. Head coach Dave DiIanni has not provided a timetable for when Enneking will return after she ran into a teammate and was carted off the field.

Juniors Jalyn Mosley, Zoe Bessert, and Cassidy Formanek are also still recovering from their respective injuries, though DiIanni expects Formanek will return to the field soon.

This past week, Roling, Bundy, and Johnston all returned. Roling and Bundy saw their first minutes of the season on Aug. 28 against DePaul, and Johnston returned on Sept. 1 against Pacific.

The abundance of injuries early in the year provided chances to players who likely wouldn’t have played as much otherwise — specifically Iowa’s freshmen.

Freshmen Kellen Fife, Brooklyn Woods, and Camille Welker are all in the top 10 in minutes played for the Hawkeyes this season, averaging 58.33, 56.83, and 51.5 minutes per game respectively. Not far behind is Halle Skibo, averaging 48.17 minutes per game.

Both Welker and Fife scored their first career goals in Iowa’s 4-0 win over DePaul on Aug. 28.

DiIanni said the freshmen’s experience will likely make the Hawkeyes a better and deeper team.

“These freshmen are getting a very up-close, real-life experience in terms of what it takes to be a Big Ten soccer player, and a student-athlete, to be honest — balancing all that every day,” DiIanni said. “This can make us better in the end.”

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On the mental side, DiIanni said the freshmen’s minutes can help them build confidence and be more strategically prepared.

“It’s not only that individual [confidence], but it’s trust and confidence that you give to your teammates,” DiIanni said. “And so that’s something that we’re working on right now. And we’re trying to build confidence and trust amongst each other, and ultimately, that’s chemistry.”

With injured players returning, the Hawkeyes seem to have more than 11 quality players with starting experience. DiIanni described the additional depth as a “dream scenario for every coach.”

He also said all three returning players bring different strengths to the team. The ninth-year head coach complimented Roling for her athleticism and effectiveness in one-on-one situations, Bundy for her high soccer IQ, and Johnston for her work rate and versatility.

DiIanni said it will be a gradual process to get players back to full strength, reacclimate them to the speed of play, and keep them healthy — especially with injuries keeping them from training until recently.

“They just started really practicing at a high level,” DiIanni said. “And so, there are other players that have also done a good job that they’re going to have to beat out for some minutes.”

While DiIanni was optimistic about the future, he said it’s key that players continue to buy in, stay invested, and work hard to get better every day.

“This team has a lot of potential,” DiIanni said. “But we need to be able to spend some time practicing and playing together with the group back healthy. And I think that’ll take some time.”


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