Aug. 12, 2009
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- Iowa soccer wallpaper
The University of Iowa soccer team finished 9-11-1 during the 2008 season, improving yet again after a program-boosting 2007 season. Iowa’s nine wins are the most the program has recorded since the 2002 season, including three against Big Ten Conference teams. For the second year in a row, the Hawkeyes earned a berth to the Big Ten Tournament, marking only the second time in school history the club has made it to the tournament in back-to-back seasons. This season’s expectations are higher than ever for head coach Ron Rainey’s team.
“The last three years we’ve made strides with our competitive level and in the Big Ten,” Rainey said. “We’ve been in more games that could go either way and that is a huge improvement from three years ago. We want to get greedy. We’ve made little jumps every year and now we want to make a big jump. There has to be a huge commitment from the team to get better every day in practice. There also has to be a huge commitment from the student-athletes how they handle classes and take care of themselves.”
Co-captains this year will be Jackie Kaeding and Heather Windsor. The senior duo, along with five fellow seniors, will lead the team that consists of a good mix of experience and competitiveness. Rainey expects every position to be competitive for the starting spots, as many freshmen and sophomores have 20 games or more experience on the field. The squad will welcome nine freshmen that bring a range of knowledge about the game from high school to international competition.
This season, the Hawkeyes will welcome a new assistant coach. Shane Meridith comes to Iowa from Miami of Ohio and will reunite with Rainey after serving as his assistant at Ball State in 2000-01. Meridith, a graduate of Earlham College, has many years of coaching experience in the collegiate and club level. Eileen Narcotta returns for her fourth year at Iowa.
“Shane coming in will add a new set of eyes and a different outlook for the coaches and the team,” said Rainey of his new assistant coach. “He’s an excellent coach and he has a great personality, so I think that will help on the field. Eileen has done a good job with the goalkeepers and defenders, so that will help with continuity.”
The Iowa roster this year includes five goalkeepers- Emily Moran, Kali Feiereisel, Erica Clausen, Stephanie Swanson and Rachel Spellerberg. Feiereisel and Moran were the leaders in the net last year, but Rainey expects good competition this year for the starting position.
“We think Kali and Emily have separated themselves a little bit,” Rainey said. “Stephanie Swanson has also pushed people in practice and some Big Ten games. Erica Clausen and Rachel Spellerberg will help with that dynamic as well. It is going to be a strong position for us.”
Feiereisel’s season was cut short after breaking her arm in the match against North Dakota State, but Rainey looks for her to come back strong.
“We’re looking forward to having Kali back from her arm injury, which caused her to miss the last seven games of the year. We’re also interested to see if Emily can keep her strong play up from the fall and spring,” Rainey said. “What was a young group of goalkeepers is now an experienced group, so we will call on them to make big saves for us this year.”
Following a season with young defenders, the Hawkeyes look to their 2008 MVP, junior Jenna Aleo, to lead the backfield. Sophomores Suzy Levett and Rachel Blakesley will also bring experience for the defense. Blakesley started every match as a freshman, while Levett recorded minutes in all 21 matches. Junior Mandy Heimann will also add depth to the starting lineup, with 31 starts in her career as a Hawkeye, but Rainey expects competition at this position as well.
“They will be pushed by some of our newcomers, so that will be a competitive position through the preseason,” Rainey said.
Co-Captain Heather Windsor
Possibly the most experienced group on the field, the midfielders, will be led by seniors Jackie Kaeding and Alex Seydel, who have each started every game of their career for an impressive combined 102 starts. Kaeding has been versatile playing minutes in the midfield and on defense.
“Alex has just been a rock for us out there and Jackie has shown the athletic and tactical ability to play both on defense and in the midfield,” explained Rainey. “Those will be the two that will do a lot of positive things for us.”
Morgan Showalter, a member of the 2008 all-Big Ten Freshmen team, leads the attack from midfield in her sophomore season. Showalter looks to improve her defensive play in the 2009 season, as well as continue to excel on the offensive side of play.
“We’ve told her her challenge this year is to become an all-Big Ten player,” Rainey said. “She has to step up her game even more offensively and add a defensive presence to the game. She has been working hard through the spring and summer on these things.”
The Hawkeyes will welcome six new midfielders to the team including Dana Dalrymple, Jade Grimm, Emily Jaffe, Jenny Kahler, Katherine Lewis and Alyscha Mottershead. Freshmen midfielders will bring an array of experiences to the squad led by Mottershead, who has competed in many international tournaments for the Canadian Under-17 National team.
Junior Keli McLaughlin and sophomore Alyssa Cosnek will be the main threats up front. McLaughlin is currently tied for fifth in school history for assists in a single-season (6) and Cosnek started every match as a freshman. Ron Rainey looks for these two to be big playmakers on the field.
“We feel that those players with 40 and 20 games experience, and a couple springs under their belt, will be able to step up their games a little bit,” said Rainey. “They need to know when they get scoring opportunities. We’re counting on them to finish.”
Rainey also looks for players such as Alli Bellmer, Kim White and Amanda Martin to help through the season with team competition, and be able to come off the bench to play solid minutes. Many players on this year’s squad have game experience that Rainey expects to be crucial in the overall production of the team.