Aug. 12, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s soccer team looks to the 2011 season with excitement. Sixth year head coach Ron Rainey and the Hawkeyes welcome state border foes Nebraska to the conference and will have an opportunity to play in the reinstated Big Ten Tournament, to be held on the campus of Northwestern in November.
“The Big Ten tournament, it’s awesome that it’s back for Big Ten women’s soccer,” Rainey said. “To have the top 8 teams out of 12 in the league is exciting. The format is a little different with Wednesday-Friday-Sunday which will allow people to rest a little bit more. I think our league is at a point where if you qualify for that Big Ten tournament, you can have expectations of winning it whether you’re the 8 seed or the 1 seed. Northwestern will provide an awesome setting and the event will be a great celebration for the teams in the league that are able to qualify for those games in November.”
The Hawkeyes graduated two defensive players in Mandy Heimann and Jenna Aleo, but return a wealth of experience in goal. Senior Emily Moran returns for her third season as a starter in front of the net. Moran has accumulated 263 career saves, 90 in 2010, and is second on Iowa’s all-time career saves list.
“This year for the goalkeepers, what we have is exciting because we have something old in Emily Moran who has been a starter for us for a few years and who made a great jump last fall and spring as a goalkeeper,” said Rainey. “So, we have some senior leadership in goal with Emily, and then we welcome two freshmen in Caitlin Schnorbach and Kiley Beck who can be mentored by Emily and also can compete to push her and push each other. I am very excited about that position.”
Iowa’s defense may be missing two players from the 2010 season, but the Hawkeyes have been working to fill those holes since last spring. One of the most crucial, and competitive, positions on the field will be anchored by senior Rachel Blakesley. Blakesley will be expected to set the tone on the back line. An incremental part of Iowa’s defense, that boosted Iowa to a seven-game win streak last season. Joining the senior will be classmates Morgan Showalter and Sarah Langlas, as well as three incoming freshmen who have the capability to protect the goal.
“Defensively this year, we graduated a couple players like Jenna Aleo and Mandy Heimann last year, but we have Rachel Blakesly as a senior who has played center back for us for a couple years,” said Rainey. “We also have someone like Kat Lewis who is a junior who we are looking at to do some big things this year, and I also think that will be a very competitive position during preseason. We have the possibility of a lot of different people stepping in there. Sarah Langlas played back there a little bit in the spring, as did Morgan Showalter. We have some freshmen, Mel Pickert, Katie Brown and Marissa Hurt who all have experience playing in the back so I think we will have a good mixture of experience and newcomers back there. I do believe that’ll be the most competitive position through the preseason as well as the first part of the nonconference games.”
Showalter, a senior from Cedar Rapids, will juggle time between the back field and middle third in order to balance senior leadership and experience. The Hawkeye veteran has started every game of her career (61) and recorded 42 points on 12 goals and 18 assists. Juniors Jade Grimm, Gabby Ainsworth and Allie Adam also all have experience in the midfield, combining for 61 starts in the last two seasons. Sophomores Alex Melin and Katie Nasenbenny will also be competing for a spot in the midfield. Melin started all 20 contests during her freshman campaign, scoring three goals with one assist. The Verona, Wisc., native also traveled to Germany over the summer to compete on the United States Youth Soccer Associate U-19 team. Nasenbenny will be back on the field following a season-ending injury last season.
“In midfield, I mentioned that Morgan Showalter has been in midfield for the last three years. That is something we will have to see, does she make the move to the back to help shore up the defense there, does she play in the midfield? But, we do have some other players up there that we are excited about. Alex Melin, as a sophomore, can do very well. Katie Nasenbenny, coming back from injury, can be somebody that plays in the midfield, as well as someone like Gabby Ainsworth, who is someone that has gotten some time in the back. Sarah Langlas, Jade Grimm, Allie Adam, all of those players can find time in the midfield for us this year.”
In the front third, the Hawkeyes will be led by junior Dana Dalrymple, a speedster from Ohio. Dalrymple started 18 times for Iowa last season, playing alongside senior Alyssa Cosnek and sophomore Leah DeMoss. During her freshman campaign, DeMoss found the net five times and tallied three assists. Cosnek, a fourth year starter, has recorded 20 goals and ranks fifth on Iowa’s all-time career goals list.
“Up top, we’ll look towards junior Dana Dalrymple. We need our forwards to step up and score goals for us in big games. Alyssa Cosnek, Dana, Leah DeMoss are all players that have done that for us and we need that same productivity in Big Ten games. Incoming player, Cloé Lacasse, I think, can do very well for us in that position. Jess Yagla is somebody who can play up top or somebody who can play in the midfield. We need someone who can step up during the preseason. Ashley Catrell is also someone who scored a big goal for us last year versus Purdue. Again, with the forwards, it is going to be real simple, how productive they are in games is going to determine who is getting playing time in those games. It’s at that point last year where we’re not really concerned with how pretty it is but we need people that can score goals in games.”
The Hawkeyes set a school record in 2010 with seven consecutive victories, but slowed once the Big Ten season arrived. The main goal for the upcoming season will be to score goals, pressure the opposing defense and protect the home goal.
“No matter if you’re a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or forward we need people that can do each of those things well and protect the goal and score in Big Ten games. We’ve got a mixture with our preseason where we are going to be playing a couple of major conference teams in Iowa State and DePaul that we are excited to play and that will be like our opponents in the Big Ten. We also have some new opponents that we haven’t played in the last couple years. Southwest Missouri State comes in, Western Illinois, and we have a trip out to Washington, D.C., where everyone is excited to play George Washington and American. All of those games, heading into the Big Ten, our goal should be to play at a pace and a speed that can be effective not only in those games but also can prepare us for our Big Ten season.”
Rainey and the student-athletes kick off their 2011 season with an exhibition match against Drake University on August 13. The team travels to DePaul to open the regular season on Aug. 19 and returns to Iowa City for the home opener against Southeast Missouri State (Aug 21). Coaches and team members are excited about the competition the upcoming season brings.
“I think it’s a mix of opponents that are going to push us,” Rainey said. “Opponents that we may need to play differently to be successful against and opponents that will ready us for the Big Ten season. The Big Ten season is an exciting season knowing that every single game will be a difficult one. Starting with Illinois and ending with Wisconsin, everyone in between, if we don’t play our best, we won’t have the success that we want. If we play our best and we prepare well then I think we can be competitive against a lot of those teams. People are excited that Nebraska is coming into the league and that should make the Big Ten even better top to bottom.”
Iowa hosts Illinois on Sept. 18 to begin the Big Ten schedule before traveling to Indiana and Purdue. The Hawkeyes conclude the conference season with a home game against Nebraska (Oct. 23) and a road game at Wisconsin (Oct. 29).