Opinion | What we’ve learned from Iowa soccer’s nonconference play

With the Hawkeyes set to start their Big Ten schedule on Sept. 16, The Daily Iowan looks back at Iowa’s eight nonconference matches.

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Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa midfielder Josie Durr interacts with teammates before a game between Iowa and Northern Iowa at the UNI soccer field in Cedar Falls on Sept. 11, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers, 6-0. Durr played for 54 minutes.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter


The Iowa soccer team just wrapped up its nonconference schedule with a 6-0 win at Northern Iowa. The win was a much-needed beatdown after a disappointing 2-1 loss to an Iowa State team that hasn’t been above the .500 mark since 2016.

Inconsistency has been the only consistent thing for the Hawkeyes so far this season.

As Iowa gets ready to start Big Ten play against Wisconsin on Sept. 16, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned from the Hawkeyes’ eight nonconference games.

Josie Durr is a key player

Since returning from an ACL injury, which kept her out for the entire 2021 season, Durr has been fantastic. After the Iowa State game on Sept. 8, head coach Dave DiIanni said she’s playing some of the best soccer of her career.

Durr has controlled the midfield for the Hawkeyes this season, dribbling into space, using her strength to seal off defenders, and playing great passes to teammates, all while being stellar on defense.

Durr often receives the ball on an island of sorts, surrounded by defenders, and somehow manages to keep possession without having to play a backward pass to Iowa’s defenders.

Even in Iowa’s toughest losses, Durr is always one of the bright spots. She has started every game, scored one goal, and fired eight shots on target — the second most on the roster.

RELATED: Fast start launches Iowa soccer to blowout win over Northern Iowa

Scoring has been inconsistent

Iowa soccer is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

Iowa has scored 13 goals in eight games this season. Ten of those goals have come against DePaul and Northern Iowa on Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, where the Hawkeyes scored four and six times, respectively. That leaves Iowa with just three goals in its other six games.

It’s possible that the recent return of Kenzie Roling will help, but it seems that it will take more than the addition of one player to ignite Iowa’s goal-scoring.

If the Hawkeyes are going to start finding the back of the net more often, they’re going to have to become more aggressive on the attack.

Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, they did just that in their most recent match at Northern Iowa, dropping all six of their goals on the Panthers in the first 33 minutes of the game.

After the match, DiIanni said he was impressed with his team’s mentality on offense. He noted Iowa got numbers forward, played great passes to each other, and dribbled past several defenders.

If Iowa can take that mentality into games against teams like Rutgers and Michigan, while maintaining the level of skill it played with in Cedar Falls, the Hawkeyes could be a dangerous team.

“Goal scoring is a momentum builder,” DiIanni said after the Northern Iowa game. “Once you see one hit the back of the net, you want to see more. And we just hadn’t seen one hit the back of the net for a while. So I’m really appreciative of their willingness to take risks and take chances. And I think they were rewarded with six goals.”

While Northern Iowa is currently 3-3-1 on the season with a less-than-stellar schedule, dropping six goals on any Division I team is bound to give Iowa’s players confidence that they’ll need to take with them into Big Ten play.

Iowa has depth

DiIanni has more than 11 starter-quality players at his disposal. Especially now, with the returns of Roling, Addie Bundy, Maggie Johnston, and Cassidy Formanek.

The quartet played 21, 45, 50, and 77 minutes respectively at Northern Iowa.

Those four players added to the mix, along with the players who gained some extra experience in the first few games of the season, should hopefully allow DiIanni to make substitutions, rest players, and spread out minutes without seeing a major drop in quality.

The Hawkeyes know how to battle back

Iowa has three wins on the year, all of which immediately followed losses.

After taking a 1-0 loss at the hands of UCLA, the Hawkeyes picked up a road win at Cal-Poly.

When Kansas came to Iowa City and beat Iowa, 1-0, DiIanni and company stomped DePaul, winning, 4-0, three days later.

After losing only their third Cy-Hawk game in the last 16 contests, the Hawkeyes went to Cedar Falls and imposed their will on Northern Iowa.

DiIanni said the reason for his team’s success following losses is their coachability and hunger to improve.

“Losses are hard and they’re painful, but it’s how you deal with those losses, and what lessons you learn,” DiIanni said.

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