The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s soccer notebook | Hawkeyes finish non-conference slate undefeated

The Hawkeyes held onto their best start since 2019.
Dimia Burrell
Iowa midfielder Maggie Johnston dribbles the ball up the field during a soccer game between Iowa and Minnesota at the UI Soccer Complex on Thursday Oct. 21, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 1-0.

The Iowa women’s soccer team had a successful road trip in Virginia to close out its non-conference slate, holding onto its longest undefeated start since 2019.

The team opened the weekend with a match against the 18th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sept. 7.

The Hawkeyes managed to hold out a hard-fought 90 minutes for a 0-0 draw — the first match Iowa was scoreless in this season.

RELATED: Iowa women’s soccer notebook | Hawkeyes look to take hot start along on Virginia road trip

The first half was an even affair, with Iowa and Virginia sharing similar shot totals with the Hawkeyes taking the lone shot on goal for the half.

But in the second half, the Cavaliers took control of the match, getting 11 shots out. Of those 11, though, only two tested Hawkeye senior goalkeeper Macy Enneking, and she saved both.

The Cavaliers possessed the ball 60 percent of the match to 40 for the Hawkeyes.

Two hours north

Senior captains defender Samantha Cary and forward Maggie Johnston joined freshman midfielder Millie Greer in playing the full 90 minutes against the Cavaliers, but the three got a two-day rest before traveling to Fairfax, Virginia, for a Sept. 10 contest with George Mason.

This time, Iowa controlled the match, holding the majority of the possession time and scoring a goal just eight minutes into the first half.

Junior forward Elle Otto found the back of the net that time for the Hawkeyes, and senior midfielder Kelli McGroarty then scored her first goal of the season with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

The second half was much of the same, the Patriots struggling to hold possession for any significant amount of time while the Hawkeyes continued to create several chances to score goals.

Iowa added another goal to its tally in the second half with Cary finding the back of the net with 12 minutes to go in the game, sealing the 3-0 win and improving the Hawkeyes to a 6-0-1 record.

With the clean sheets against Virginia and George Mason, Macy Enneking is now tied with former Hawkeye Emily Moran for third in the Iowa record book for career shutouts. The Iowa defense has still only allowed one goal all season.

“We’ve been pretty consistent as a team,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “We’ve been able to develop a consistent understanding on how we want to play both tactically and personnel-wise.”

Big Ten opener

The Hawkeyes’ Big Ten schedule begins with Sunday’s home match against Illinois at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City.

“I think Illinois is always a good challenge for us,” Enneking said. “They play similarly to us, so I think it’s a good first game for the Big Ten schedule.”

Last year, Iowa narrowly missed out on the Big Ten tournament with its 5-6-7 record. But having already surpassed last season’s win total, the Hawkeyes hope to be back this season with the momentum of an undefeated record in non-conference play.

“I think our non-conference was made up of a lot of different challenges,” Cary said. “We’ve had super competitive games, and we’ve had games where we were in control, so going into the Big Ten [play], we’re super excited about the team we have.”

The time is now for the Hawkeyes to push to the postseason, six of their 10 Big Ten games coming against teams that made the Big Ten tournament last year: Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

“There’s a lot of parity in college soccer right now,” DiIanni said. “I think this might be the deepest the Big Ten has been as a conference.”

The toughest games the Hawkeyes will have this season come against No. 20 Northwestern and No. 24 Nebraska — and they will play them back-to-back.

Although Iowa had a dominant 4-0 victory over Nebraska in Iowa City last year, the Cornhuskers have started their 2023 campaign strongly with wins over Gonzaga, Missouri, and Kansas State.

Iowa also squeezed by with a 2-1 upset victory last year in Evanston, Illinois, against the then-13th-ranked Wildcats, so Northwestern will look to return the favor this year in Iowa City on Oct. 12.

“The Big Ten has proven itself to be one of the top conferences in the country,” Cary said. “It’s a massive opportunity for us to go in and make a name for ourselves, and I have full belief that this team can do something unexpected.”

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