Oct. 16, 2014
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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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
The Michigan natives — Brown from Ann Arbor, Pickert from Canton — were on opposite U9 teams as kids, but by the time they hit the U12 Olympic Development Program, they became teammates. Ten years later the duo is still together and entering the final stage of their collegiate careers.
“From a consistency standpoint, we have been back there from day one,” said Pickert. “All we’ve had to do is add in two wingers, and we have to learn (what they do).”
For the past four years — a string of 77 games heading into Friday’s meeting against Indiana — Brown and Pickert have been penciled next to each other on Iowa’s starting 11. The pair’s consistency and durability have helped elevate the program.
“When one of us makes a mistake, we know how to react,” said Brown. “If she makes a mistake, I am there for her, and if I make a mistake, I know she is there to cover my back. With the two of us, it is nice to know we have that support system.”
“I have been playing with her so long…” said Pickert. “…I know what she’s going to do before she does it.”
Brown is loud and obnoxious on the field; Pickert is quiet and determined, but both players are competitive.
Pickert says opposing players are quickly put to shame when they underestimate Brown.
“People overlook her because she’s smaller than most center backs,” said Pickert. “She can hold her ground with the top 3-4 people on our team. If you think you can run through Katie, you had better think again, because the next time she will body check you to the ground.”
Regardless of the situation, Brown knows what she is going to get from Pickert.
“On the ball, off the ball, she is very composed,” said Brown. “She doesn’t let the heat of the game get into her head. She has a tremendous technical ability to stay calm under pressure.”
It has been a comfort for Pickert to play next to Brown for the duration of her career, but it was also a detriment each August during preseason camp.
“In preseason, it was terrible because we don’t get to play with each other because we’re always on opposite teams during scrimmages,” said Pickert. “As soon as we get that run through of 11 players, I look at her, and it is like ‘Kate, it’s nice to be back.'”
Brown, Pickert, and the nine-player senior class have won 49 games as Hawkeyes. The team has won at least 12 games in each of the past three seasons, including a school-record 15 times in 2014 when they advanced to the Big Ten Tournament championship game and earned the first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Iowa has nine wins in 2014 with five games remaining in the regular season. The Hawkeyes host the Hoosiers at 7 p.m. (CT) Friday at the Iowa Soccer Complex. It is Senior Night, the annual Pink Out game, and a post game fireworks show will occur.
“(Our success) has been a team effort, and it has been awesome to share it (with Melanie),” said Brown. “It is also cool for our parents. We have been friends since we were 11 or 12 years old, and it’s neat for them to be able to share in the journey with us and share it together.”
“It’s weird that this is our last year,” said Pickert. “We take a lot of pride in being starters from day one. (When we first started) people were like ‘Iowa has two freshmen center backs, really?’
“Katie and I were like, ‘We’re here to stay.'”
And they did.
The Brown-Pickert duo has become synonymous when you think of the Iowa defense.