Aug. 14, 2012
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After winning a school record 13 games in 2011, University of Iowa head soccer coach Ron Rainey is preparing the Hawkeyes for greater expectations.
“We have to be ready to play at a higher level than we did last year because expectations should be higher,” said Rainey at the team’s media day Tuesday at the Iowa Soccer Complex. “We did well in the league last year and our players want to do well in the league this year.”
The Hawkeyes return 21 letterwinners and eight starters from the 2011 team that posted a 13-4-3 overall record and went 5-4-2 in the Big Ten to advance to the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Rainey says his squad has the pieces in place to continue the building process.
“We have some players that have come back ready to make a difference, even more of a difference than they did last year,” he said. “We need some people to step into roles that were left open by graduation, and the first couple of weeks have shown we have some people ready to do that.”
“We have to be ready to play at a higher level than we did last year because expectations should be higher. We did well in the league last year and our players want to do well in the league this year.”
UI head coach Ron Rainey
Rainey said sophomore forward Chloe Lacasse put herself in position during the offseason to build on a strong freshman campaign where she paced the team with 12 goals and 30 points.
“Chloe did the work this summer,” said Rainey. “You see it in practice, you see it when we’re playing small sided and you see it when we’re playing 11 a side. She has put herself in a position fitness-wise and playing-wise with the U20 Canadian National Team this summer, playing at a really high level.”
Rainey says Lacasse will be a known commodity on the Hawkeye roster this season, which means she’ll have to step up her level of play.
“Chloe will be known by everybody we go up against, so that means she will have to play at a higher level,” said Rainey. “She will be marked by one, maybe two people in a game.”
With less than a week of practice remaining until the regular season opener, Rainey is still looking for the picture to clear up in goal. The Hawkeyes are searching for a replacement for Emily Moran, who was a mainstay at the goalkeeper position over the last four seasons.
“It’s Tuesday, and I’m glad we don’t have to name a starter until Friday,” said Rainey. “All the goalkeepers are doing well. My gut is we will be in some type of time-sharing situation. Depending on the status of the game, all three goalkeepers may play in some of these games during the nonconference portion of the year.
“We do have to identify and see if we’re in a time sharing situation all year or if somebody steps up to be the one that plays 90 minutes in a game.”
Rainey announced that seniors Kat Lewis and Dana Dalyrmple and junior Alex Melin were voted by their teammates as Iowa’s team captains.
“It feels good to be nominated and then be named captain by my teammates,” said Dalyrmple, who scored five goals and had three assists in 2011. “All three of us can represent the team well. We’re all dedicated to making this team better and having a good season.”
After reeling off a 12-game unbeaten streak to start the 2011 season, Rainey elevated the nonconference portion of the schedule to help better prepare the Hawkeyes for Big Ten play.
“We improved our nonconference where the average RPI of the teams is 30-to-40 points higher than it was last year,” he said. “There are some nice challenges in there to play some teams that were in the NCAA tournament last year.”
Melin says the Hawkeyes are up to the challenge.
“We want to be better than last year,” said Melin, the 2011 Iowa Most Valuable Player. “Our goal is to be in the NCAA tournament and finish at the top of the conference. We strive for that.”
Iowa opens the regular season Friday night, hosting Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. at the Iowa Soccer Complex.