IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa soccer team opens its spring season Saturday, facing Arkansas in a neutral site matchup in St. Louis. The game will be played at Creve Couer Park Soccer Complex beginning at 1 p.m. (CT).
It will be a matchup of two 2019 NCAA Tournament teams.
The Hawkeyes won 15 games and earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the second time in program history. The Razorbacks finished 17-4-2 overall and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to NC State, 2-1.
"This might be the best opening opponent we have had in the spring in a long time," said Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni. "It is about challenging ourselves against a program that is perennially in the NCAA Tournament."
“Arkansas will bring a different style of play then anything we see in the Big Ten and that will create adversity and situations where we will have to make decisions and be confident in each other or we’re going to get punished. I like the opportunity to grow and play a high-level game in the spring with such a young program.”
Iowa’s roster will look markedly different following the graduation of a 13-player senior class that included six starters, including All-Big Ten selections Natalie Winters and Devin Burns and four-year starter Claire Graves in goal.
“We bring back a good number of players that have a lot of experience, but we also have a lot of question marks that we are hoping to get answered this spring,” said DiIanni. “That will only come with increased opportunities to compete against outside opponents.”
Forwards Samantha Tawharu and Gianna Gourley are the team’s top returning goal scorers, having found the net five times apiece in 2019. Tawharu is back after tallying a team-best 15 points.
“Spring is always a great opportunity to recreate your program a little bit,” said DiIanni. “You see a lot of players take on different roles and responsibilities and grow their game.
“We like that there is an idea of how we played in the fall, and even if we lack that game experience, the players have been conscience and aware of sticking to the philosophy and tactics that made us successful in the fall.”