Aug. 11, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head women’s soccer coach Ron Rainey’s message is clear — the Hawkeyes must be better in close games in 2011.
“We have to get better in close games — it is really that simple,” said Rainey at Iowa’s media day Thursday at the Iowa Soccer Complex. “We have to mentally feel like we can win one goal games. We have to mentally be ready to take leads in Big Ten games.”
The Hawkeyes have the potential to build on an eight-win 2010 season with 17 letterwinners returning this season. Nearly all of the team’s offensive production remains intact as all but one of the players that scored returns.
“It’s nice to have that experience back,” said Rainey, who is entering his sixth year as the head coach. “We are still in a situation where some of those players that scored have to step up and score again when we are in Big Ten play.”
The 2011 squad will boost added depth on the roster with 10 newcomers being added to the mix. The new class of Hawkeyes have adjusted well to collegiate soccer and shown the returnees what they can do.
“This team has shown some flashes of being a team that can make a move in the Big Ten. Quite simply, that is something we want to do and need to do this year.”
UI head coach Ron Rainey
“The freshmen have meshed well,” said Morgan Showalter, one of six seniors on the team. “I think we not only have a lot of people coming back, but we have a few newcomers who in the preseason have really shown what they can do.”
“We’re a much deeper team this year — instead of playing 13-14 players a game that might go up to 16-17 this year,” said Rainey. “While doing that, we have to make sure that people are on the same page as far as how they need to play with each other to be effective.”
Part of being effective is finding ways to win close games.
“Our focus is to finish games out,” said senior goalkeeper Emily Moran, who had 99 saves and six shutouts during her junior campaign. “Those last 20 minutes (of games) are going to be crucial for us this year. We did lose a lot of 1-0 games, and we want to be able to win those games. Instead of being down 1-0, be up 1-0 or come back and win 2-1.”
Maybe focusing on this task in August will pay dividends for the team when regular season play begins on Aug. 19 and, even more so, when Big Ten Conference action starts Sept. 18 against Illinois.
“This team has shown some flashes of being a team that can make a move in the Big Ten,” said Rainey. “Quite simply, that is something we want to do and need to do this year.”
The Hawkeyes open the 2011 season on Saturday afternoon, hosting Drake in a 4 p.m. exhibition game at the Iowa Soccer Complex.