Nov. 2, 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 — One of the goals listed by members of the University of Iowa women’s soccer team at the beginning of the season was to take one of the eight qualifying spots in the Big Ten Tournament. Now that the goal has been accomplished, the Hawkeyes want more.
Head coach Ron Rainey and his Iowa women’s soccer team enter this year’s Big Ten Tournament after recording the best overall record (13-4-2) in program history. Iowa’s tie for fifth place in the final league standings is the second-highest finish in school history and the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament is also the second-best seed for a Hawkeye team.
Rainey believes his players will carry confidence into the first round matchup against No. 3 seed Michigan State, scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Wednesday morning at Northwestern University.
“Our players are confident and they feel like they can compete with whoever is across the field,” Rainey said. “We need to play our best game of the season Wednesday, because everyone in the tournament has had an awesome season.”
“Our players are confident and they feel like they can compete with whoever is across the field. We need to play our best game of the season Wednesday, because everyone in the tournament has had an awesome season.”
UI head coach Ron Rainey
Iowa and Michigan State met during the regular season, with the Hawkeyes coming out on top, 1-0, in Iowa City. According to Rainey, Wednesday’s match will be much different than the earlier meeting.
“They have a great team and have had success during the Big Ten season,” Rainey said about the Spartans. “Wednesday’s game will be totally different. It will be the first game of the week instead of the back end of a weekend like the last time we played. Both teams were coming off games and were fatigued, and Michigan State had to travel.”
Iowa’s match against Michigan State was one of five league victories for the Hawkeyes, also the second-most in school history. Rainey credits this season’s success to his team buying into the “one game at a time” cliché.
“I’ve never seen a team do a better job of staying in the moment,” Rainey said. “I’m really proud of the team in that regard. They have stayed in the present and kept every single day in front of them. They’ve competed very well this season.”
Senior goalkeeper Emily Moran, who set school records for single season and career wins for a goalkeeper in 2011, thinks team chemistry has helped build the Hawkeyes into a contender.
“We mesh really well together,” Moran said. “It doesn’t matter if we are on the field or off the field. The team camaraderie is great.”
Moran is also sold on the cliché that Rainey wants his team to buy into. That cliché can only help in a one-and-done postseason tournament.
“We just need to focus on our one game,” Moran said. “We can worry about everything else after that first game. We have had that mentality all year, and that will really help during the Big Ten Tournament.”
As far as a game plan is concerned, Rainey has one simple message for his players.
“When our team has been successful, we have played loose and relaxed,” Rainey said. “The team has just gone out and had fun, no matter the situation. We’ve played in a couple games down the stretch that we’ve seen how well we can play when we are relaxed.”
Those two games that Rainey speaks of were two massive wins in terms of Big Ten Tournament seeding. The Hawkeyes netted six goals against Northwestern on Senior Day in Iowa City and followed with a huge, 2-0, win on the road at Wisconsin to end the regular season.
With an elevated level of confidence and a single game at a time mentality, the Hawkeyes are ready to make some noise in this year’s Big Ten Tournament. This year marks the sixth trip in school history to the league tournament, but Iowa has never advanced past the quarterfinals and holds an 0-5 record.
Moran wants that record to change.
“Everyone is working together for a common goal,” Moran said. “That goal is making it further in the postseason than any other team in school history.”