Iowa soccer dominates Nebraska for first Big Ten victory

The Hawkeyes dropped four goals on the Cornhuskers in the border battle.


Johnny Jarnagin

Iowa midfielder Caroline Halonen goes in to celebrate with teammates after a goal scored by Iowa forward Hailey Rydberg during a soccer game between Iowa and Michigan at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines tied, 1-1.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

The Iowa soccer team dominated Nebraska to get its first Big Ten win of the season on Sunday at the Iowa Soccer Complex.

The Hawkeyes outshot the Cornhuskers, 20-7, and held 62 percent of the possession en route to a 4-0 win.

Iowa took the lead late in the first half off of a Hailey Rydberg penalty kick right down the middle. The penalty came in the 32nd minute after Nebraska goalkeeper Samantha Hauk clipped Elle Otto in the penalty area.


The Hawkeyes doubled their lead 10 minutes later, when a Sam Cary corner kick went off Hauk’s hands and into the back of the net.

Iowa sealed the game in the second half when junior Rielee Fetty and sophomore Elle Otto set up graduate transfer Caroline Halonen and Rydberg, respectively, with a pair of goals from six yards out.


Halonen said she knew she was going to get the ball when she made eye contact with Fetty from the back post.

“I was wide open,” Halonen said. “I just had to take a touch and finish.”

Head coach Dave DiIanni said the first Big Ten win has been a long time coming, and the pieces fell in place for the Hawkeyes.

“It was a big one,” DiIanni said. “I think as the game wore on we broke Nebraska’s spirit and we gained a little bit of confidence and momentum as well.”

Big Picture

The Hawkeyes now sit ninth in the Big Ten with their 1-3-4 record giving them seven points.

To get into the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa will have to finish eighth or better in the regular season. The eighth position is currently held by Minnesota with 10 points.

The Hawkeyes are currently 4-6-6 overall and 153rd in Ratings Performance Index rankings. Without a win in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, the Hawkeyes have a low chance of getting into the NCAA Tournament. 

Ball Hawks

Iowa is usually not a team that holds a lot of possession. The Hawkeyes have held more than 60 percent of the possession in just two games this year before Sunday.

Iowa held the ball for 62 percent of the game against Nebraska and had no problem getting the ball forward into the final third. DiIanni said possession was a point of emphasis going into the game.

“Honestly, we just talked a lot about having to keep the ball just enough so that we don’t have to chase them,” DiIanni said. “They’re very athletic, they’re very good in transition. And their best players are their forwards. So if we keep the ball a little bit more, that means that we can wear them out a little bit defensively.”

Hailey Rydberg scores two

Rydberg opened the scoring for Iowa in the 32nd minute with a penalty kick right down the middle of the goal.

The fifth-year senior said the credit for her first goal of the match goes to Elle Otto for drawing the foul to earn the penalty kick.

“I got a little nervous right before I went, because I remembered I’ve taken PK’s before, so I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, she knows where I’m going,’” Rydberg said. “And so I just got a little bit lucky there.”

Rydberg later scored Iowa’s fourth goal of the match in the 81st minute.

“I remember Morgan [Lietz] had a great interception,” Rydberg said. “She found Ellie in the middle. And I actually thought she was gonna go and shoot and she found me perfectly in the middle of the box. And I was able to just chip it in.”

What’s Next?

Iowa will travel to Evanston to take on Northwestern on Thursday. The Wildcats are currently second in the Big Ten and 11th in the nation in RPI rankings.

Northwestern sits at 12-2-2 overall, and 6-1-1 in the conference. The Wildcats most recently faced No. 23 Michigan State on Sunday, battling the Spartans to a 2-1 loss.

Iowa most recently took on Northwestern in 2021, beating the Wildcats, 2-1, at home.

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