Nov. 6, 2013
- 2013 Big Ten Tournament Central
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- 2013 Iowa Soccer Media Guide
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- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
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 — Long gone are the days when the University of Iowa soccer team is happy to just be playing in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes want results.
“It is an evolutionary process for us to keep going to these games and not just being happy to be at the tournament, but expecting results and expecting to do well,” said UI head coach Ron Rainey. “We are mentally ready to go, and the players will work as hard as they can to see what the result is from there.”
The Hawkeyes finished the regular season in a three-way tie for fifth place — the third top-five finish in school history — but earned the No. 7 seed based on conference tiebreaker procedures. Iowa will face second-seeded Michigan at 1:30 p.m. (CT) today in Champaign, Ill.
The Wolverines are the hottest team in the conference leading into postseason play, having won eight straight games, including five of the last six games via the shutout. They are currently ranked seventh in the latest NSCAA Coaches’ Poll.
“We want to come out and play our best game against Michigan. We know they’re a good team and had a lot of success, but we’re right there. We’re going to come out and play our best and hopefully good things happen for us. We’re excited to have this opportunity.”
UI junior Katie Nasenbenny
“Michigan is one of the best, if not the best defensive teams in the country,” said Rainey. “To go through the Big Ten schedule and give up five goals and nine for the year, it is something we know how good we have to be attacking-wise just to get good chances, let alone goals.”
The Wolverines won the regular season meeting on Sept. 22 in Iowa City by a 2-1 score. After taking a 1-0 lead into the half, Iowa got an equalizer from freshman Bri Toelle in the 68th minute, but less than a minute later, the Michigan retook the lead for good.
Junior Katie Nasenbenny says the Hawkeyes can learn from the first meeting and carry it over into today’s matchup.
“We kind of know their tendencies,” said Nasenbenny. “They have some talented players all over the field, and we know if they do a certain thing what to expect. We played them in the first game (in the BigTen opener), and they have improved, but so have we. It will be a different team on both sides.”
Rainey says Iowa’s confidence level is high entering the postseason after the Hawkeyes won 2-of-3 games to close out the regular season. One of those victories was a 3-2 triumph over No. 16 Penn State on Oct. 25 in Iowa City.
“The team is excited to play a good Michigan team,” said Rainey. “Their confidence level is as high as it has been as we have entered the Big Ten Tournament the last couple of years.”
This will be Iowa’s third-straight and eighth Big Ten Tournament appearance in school history. The Hawkeyes are 0-6-1 in their first seven tries. Iowa tied Michigan State, 0-0, in 2011, but lost via the penalty shootout, before falling 2-0 to eventual national runner-up Penn State last season.
Nasenbenny says Iowa isn’t looking beyond its opening round game, and the team is focusing on making the most of its opportunity.
“We want to come out and play our best game against Michigan,” she said. “We know they’re a good team and had a lot of success, but we’re right there. We’re going to come out and play our best and hopefully good things happen for us. We’re excited to have this opportunity.”
Fans can follow the game via GameTracker on hawkeyesports.com.