Aug. 18, 2015
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BY MEGAN ROWLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa soccer program is ready to reap the benefits of its 11 newcomers.
“One of the benefits of not having a lot of experience is there is a lot of opportunity to play, a lot of minutes to be eaten up,” UI head coach Dave DiIanni said Tuesday at the team’s media day.
“This year we have 14 freshmen and redshirt freshmen on this team. We are going to have to get better every day, and it will have to be by committee.
“The hand we have been dealt is very young. The best part about youth is they are very open to learning, they have a lot of energy and are eager to learn. We have to take advantage of that.”
Since their first practice on August 6, the Hawkeyes have placed a great deal of emphasis on leadership and team dynamic.
“The best way to make them feel welcome is to just go over and talk to them,” said junior Amanda Lulek. “I have been here for two years now and they are just getting here. You have to be the one to start it. They aren’t going to feel comfortable coming up and talking to a junior. It is up to us to usher them in and make them feel comfortable.”
The slew of newcomers has given the Hawkeyes a new opportunity for growth.
“This year we are ready to come out strong, we are a young team, but I think that is good,” said junior Bri Toelle. “It pushes the upperclassmen, everyone is working hard and we are all fighting for playing time.”
The young Iowa team is anchored by its strong defense of experienced players. “We have Amanda Lulek, Corey Burns, Louisville transfer, Rachele Armand, and Morgan Kemerling, will all start of us in the back,” said DiIanni. “We are going to be good in the back, which is a positive in our sport. It will also keep us in games like it did last year. The youth is going to be all on the offensive side of things.”
The Hawkeyes will look to the leader of their defense, senior goalkeeper Hannah Clark, to lead their team as this year’s lone captain.
“It is nice to have the coaches and players put their confidence in me,” said Clark. “The team always keeps you going. They need someone to trust and it feels great that they can come to me. We also have three other upperclassmen that they can go to.”
“We are going to be a work in progress, we have to develop and get better every day, and we are going to be a better team in two months than we are today,” said Dilanni.
Iowa opens the regular season Friday with a home contest against Pacific at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. (CT).