By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — During the University of Iowa soccer team’s 4-0 start, saying the Hawkeyes are a deep offensive squad would be an understatement.
Iowa has a Big Ten Conference-leading 14 goals in four games, averaging 3.50 goals per contest. Nine different Hawkeyes have scored at least one goal.
“I have been here three years and this is the first time we’ve had this kind of depth,” said senior Emma Tokuyama. “It’s exciting that everyone who is going on the field is dangerous.
“(Our depth) makes us dynamic. There is not just one person that you can double team, you have to sit in and try to defend us.”
The Hawkeyes scored twice in their season-opening shutout victory over Western Michigan before springing for six goals in a 6-1 win over Northern Iowa on Aug. 25. Iowa scored two more goals in the 2-1 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series triumph over Iowa State before finding the back of the net four more times in a 4-3 win over Illinois State on Sept. 1.
Senior Natalie Winters has a team-best three goals, while seniors Kaleigh Haus and Devin Burns and freshman Gianna Gourley have two goals apiece. Five other Hawkeyes have one goal.
“Gianna is productive and Sam T. (Twaharu) has been instrumental off the bench,” said Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni. “That allows us to play at a faster pace and allows the players that are starting to play at 100 percent for a shorter period of time.”
Twenty-six Hawkeyes have seen the field in the team’s first 4-0 start in four seasons. Eleven players have tallied at least one point.
“It’s crazy,” said Haus. “When you look at everyone on our bench and they’re capable of going out and getting an assist, scoring a goal, or making a big tackle. Leah Moss had the biggest tackle of the game (in the win over Illinois State), completely taking a girl out on a counter.
“That’s what we need, no matter how many minutes you play, you have to go out and make an impact.”
“We are a deep,” said DiIanni. “This team can score goals, which has been the crux of the matter the last couple of years. We’re better at creating corners and opportunities. Last year, we created a lot of chances but didn’t get seconds chances off of corners.
“There are a lot of good things coming from our depth and the resiliency we have shown.”
Iowa will need that resiliency to continue when it hits the road this week for its first road trip of the season. The Hawkeyes play at No. 17 North Carolina State on Sept. 5 before facing UNC-Greensboro — a 2018 NCAA Tournament team — on Sept. 8.
The Hawkeyes were 1-7-0 on the road during the 2018 season. Five of Iowa’s next eight games will be away from Iowa City.
“We’re hoping that having an experienced team will help us,” said DiIanni. “The seniors are playing with urgency and we have talked a lot about being all-in on 19 games, both mentally and physically, and not letting opportunities pass us by.
“How can you not be excited to play a ranked Wolfpack team and UNCG? It will be an exciting road trip.”