Aug 20, 2013
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By ERIC CLARK
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa soccer team has its sights set on the NCAA Tournament. Not long ago, that goal seemed far-fetched.
“Five or six years ago, we couldn’t talk about being a team that could compete to be in the NCAA Tournament,” UI head coach Ron Rainey said Tuesday at the team’s media day. “We’ve positioned ourselves to where we can talk about that a little bit.”
The past two seasons have yielded the most wins (25) in school-history, setting the bar high for the 2013 season.
“It starts with good practices in August, good nonconference games, and then doing well in the Big Ten,” said Rainey. “If we skip any of those steps, (an NCAA Tournament bid) won’t happen.”
“To get somewhere you haven’t been before, you have to do different things. Everyone has to put in a little extra.”
UI junior Caitlin Brown
The Hawkeyes began their season last Saturday in an exhibition match against Milwaukee, winning 4-1. Junior Cloe Lacasse picked up one goal and two assists in the win, with sophomore Brooke Backes and juniors Anne Marie Thomas and Emily Scott each scoring one goal.
“There were definitely moments from that game that we can build on,” Rainey said. “We want to work on our speed of play all over the field, both with and without the ball.”
Iowa looks to expand its two-year streak of undefeated nonconference play when it opens regular season play at Drake on Friday. The Hawkeyes last played the Bulldogs in 2011, winning by a count of 6-0.
“One of the things we have to do well against Drake is play faster,” Rainey said. “We want to play faster and much cleaner technically.”
Even with all the nonconference success, the Hawkeyes play in the Big Ten has left something to be desired for both Rainey and the players.
“The point of every game of the nonconference schedule is to improve and get ready for the Big Ten (schedule),” junior Cloe Lacasse said. “That’s what we want to win.”
This season marks the end of senior Ashley Catrell’s collegiate career. The Overland Park, Kan. native said the team has improved every year since she has been at Iowa, and that she expects that trend to continue.
“Every season is important, but it’s going to be weird for me since it’s my last,” she said. “It’s a big deal to me, and hopefully to everyone else.”
In order to improve upon last season, the Hawkeyes will need to better their 3-5-3 conference record from 2012.
“We want to make noise in the Big Ten,” Rainey said. “In order to do that, you first have to be successful on the nonconference side of things. The Big Ten is a tremendous conference.”
Rainey says his team is looking to maintain a competitive nature in practice that will allow them to compete with any team on their schedule.
“We talk to our players a lot about how deeds should outweigh words,” he said. “Actions speak a lot louder than words, and we want to carry that through.”
Junior Caitlin Brown says for the Hawkeyes to do something that has yet to take place, everyone needs to do more.
“To get somewhere you haven’t been before, you have to do different things,” she said. “Everyone has to put in a little extra.”
Friday’s contest against Drake will take place in Des Moines beginning at 7 p.m. (CT).