Nov. 7, 2014
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A late second half goal from senior Cloe Lacasse gave the fifth-seeded University of Iowa women’s soccer team a 1-0 victory over eighth-seeded Northwestern in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex. The Hawkeyes will play for the Big Ten title for a second-straight season Sunday against No. 11 Wisconsin.
“I’m so happy for our team,” said UI head coach Dave DiIanni. “We went through a lot of adversity early on in the year, and again yesterday with Melanie Pickert going down. It would have been easy for us to just give up on the season, but our kids keep fighting and playing as a team, and that’s the only way we are going to be successful.”
Northwestern dominated Iowa during the first 20 minutes of action, firing off four shots before Iowa could muster off a single shot of its own. The Hawkeyes got the ball rolling midway through the first half and had a chance to go up 1-0 just before halftime. Junior Meredith McEniff tried to poke in a corner kick sent in by sophomore Amanda Lulek in the final minute, but Northwestern goalkeeper, Lauren Clem made the save, sending the game into halftime scoreless.
The Wildcats again came out firing to open play in the second, sending four shots at Iowa’s junior goalkeeper, Hannah Clark, but Clark kept the scoreboard clean.
In the 68th-minute, Lacasse sent a floater from the sideline on a cross, but it sailed over an outstretched Clem and into the back left corner of the net, giving Iowa a 1-0 lead. The goal was Lacasse’s 12th of the year and moved the Sudbury, Ontario, native into a tie for first place on Iowa’s all-time career points list with 112.
Northwestern, however, wasn’t ready to call it quits. The Wildcats recorded four shots over the final 10 minutes and had a solid chance for the equalizer in the 83rd-minute. Second-team All-Big Ten honoree Addie Steiner reeled off back-to-back shots from inside the box, but Clark and the Iowa defense prevailed as the Hawkeyes held on for the 1-0 victory.
“Things got a little hairy in the last 15 minutes as Northwestern was able to get inside the box,” said DiIanni. “Aside from that, our kids played well. They did a nice job, not only following the scouting report, but defending under a little bit of pressure near the end of the game.”
Northwestern out-shot Iowa, 19-14, on the day, including 11-6 in the second half.
Clark tallied seven saves for the second-straight game and recorded her ninth shutout of the season. The Fort Collins, Colorado, native now has a 4-1 record with a 0.33 goals against average in six career Big Ten Tournament games. She is one shutout away from tying the school record for the most shutouts in a single season, a record that she set last season.
“I’m ecstatic that our season is still alive,” said DiIanni. “We still have a chance to get into the NCAA tournament, which is ultimately our biggest goal.”
The Hawkeyes will play for a Big Ten championship Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes and Badgers played to a scoreless draw Oct. 8 in Madison, Wisconsin.?