In Search of No. 11

Oct. 8, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa soccer team’s mantra this season has been simple — take it one game, one practice at a time. It’s a philosophy that’s paying dividends to the tune of a 10-1-2 overall record.

The Hawkeyes reeled off a school record eight wins during the nonconference portion of the schedule. The squad opened Big Ten Conference play with a 2-2 draw against 23rd-ranked Illinois before winning at Indiana (1-0) and tying Purdue (1-1) on Sept. 25. The 11-game unbeaten streak came to a halt in a 1-0 loss to Michigan on Sept. 30.

“When that first loss came, we were disappointed,” said senior defender Morgan Showalter. “We knew we had another game coming to get back on track. We’re still trying to prove ourselves in the Big Ten each and every game, so our goal was to come out stronger than before.”

The team did just that. Iowa scored quickly, netting a goal in the eighth minute against Michigan State. The goal held and goalkeeper Emily Moran made nine saves to complete the shutout and give the Hawkeyes their 10th victory of the season.

“The mentality wasn’t to hang our head,” said UI head coach Ron Rainey of the team’s attitude following its first defeat. “Deep down, this group has done a really good job of going one practice at a time and a game at a time.

“They know how difficult each game is in the Big Ten and if you don’t play your best you lose a lot of control over the result.”

The one game, one practice attitude has carried over into this week, as the Hawkeyes prepared for tonight’s 7 p.m. match-up against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers — a 2010 NCAA Sweet 16 team — enter the game with a 4-7-2 record.

“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year to be successful,” said Rainey. “They look good on film, and they’ve played some of the best teams in our conference close.”

“I think of this game as a rivalry for us,” said Showalter. “It’ll be very fast and people going to go in hard to every tackle. I don’t think there will be a down moment in the game.”

Showalter says the “Pink” events surrounding the game will give the Hawkeyes a little extra oomph. The first 200 fans in attendance will receive a free pink Hawkeye headband.

“It’s different than all of our other games because it gives you a little extra something,” said Showalter. “I have been touched by cancer, as my grandpa passed away when I was younger, and we were very close. There are also other people on the team who have been affected, so it’s an exciting little thing added to playing a big game.”

“It’s nice to be able to recognize other people and recognize people in our families that have had cancer,” said Moran. “It holds a special place in everyone’s heart, so that might push us through a little bit.”

The game is set to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Fans are encouraged to support breast cancer awareness by wearing pink to the event. Admission is free.