The University of Iowa soccer team will host Minnesota on Sunday at noon at the Iowa Soccer Complex. It will be the Hawkeyes’ first game in Iowa City since 2019. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, general admission fans will not be permitted to attend the contests.
• Sunday’s gams will be streamed live on BTN+.
• Live stats will be available on hawkeyesports.com.
• Fans can follow the Iowa soccer program on Twitter (@HawkeyeSoccer) for live in-game updates.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Head coach Dave DiIanni is in his seventh season at the helm of the soccer program. In 2019, DiIanni led the Hawkeyes to a 15-5-1 overall record and an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.
• The Hawkeyes have shown improvement over the course of the young season, holding Michigan to a draw and pitching a shutout for 223 consecutive minutes at one point last week. Offensively, Iowa is still searching for its first goal of the 2021 campaign.
• Iowa returns six starters from a team that won a school-record 15 games in 2019. The Hawkeyes replace a senior class that accounted for 25 goals and included the all-time wins leader Claire Graves in goal.
• Three Hawkeyes — Hailey Rydberg, Sara Wheaton, and Samantha Cary — were named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors List. Iowa was picked to finish sixth of 14 teams in the preseason coaches’ poll.
• Juniors Hailey Rydberg and Riley Whitaker were voted team captains for the 2021 spring season.
• The Hawkeyes will play 11 games over a seven-week period before competing in a Big Ten Wildcard Weekend from April 8-11. The semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament will be held April 15, but it will include only four teams.
Iowa fell, 2-0, to Northwestern at the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf, Iowa, on March 8. The Hawkeyes forced a draw against Michigan the previous time out, but their streak of 223 minutes without giving up a goal came to a close in the second half when Wildcat Olivia Stone scored in the 52nd minute.
WILHELM IN GOAL
Redshirt sophomore Monica Wilhelm posted her first career shutout when she held Michigan scoreless for 110 minutes on March 4. Wilhelm made a career-high nine saves in the draw.
• The Illinois native has made 21 saves and posted a 1.53 goals against average through the first five games of the 2021 season.
The Hawkeyes have out-shot their opponents in three of the first five games of the season, but have yet to find the back of the net. Junior Hailey Rydberg has a team-high 11 shots and freshmen Meike Ingles and Maggie Johnston are second and third with seven and five shots, respectively.
Junior Sara Wheaton is the only Hawkeye position player to have reached 90 minutes in each of Iowa’s five games this season.
Other Hawkeyes to play at least 90 minutes include: Aleisha Ganief (3), Samantha Cary (2), Rielee Fetty (2), Josie Durr (1), Meike Ingles (1), Maggie Johnston (1), Hailey Rydberg (1), Diane Senkowski (1), and Samantha Tawharu (1).
Iowa is most experienced at the defender position where junior Sara Wheaton and sophomore Sam Cary started every game in 2019. The duo was instrumental in the Hawkeyes allowing just 18 goals in 21 games and posting six shutouts.
A year after having one of the most veteran teams in the nation, the Hawkeyes have one of the youngest. Iowa has only one senior on the 2021 spring roster in Diane Senkowski. Eighteen of the 28 players on the roster are underclassmen.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The Hawkeyes played “home” games away from Iowa City for the early portion of the 2021 season, hosting Michigan and Northwestern at the TBK Banks Sports Complex in Bettendorf, Iowa. The Hawkeyes will play their first game at the Iowa Soccer Complex on March 14 against Minnesota.
• The Hawkeyes have 28 players on the 2021 roster, which includes 10 freshmen/redshirt freshmen.
• Junior Samantha Tawharu and sophomore Gianna Gourley return after combining to start 16 games (eight apiece) during their first Hawkeye seasons. Junior Skylar Alward scored two goals in 18 games as a reserve as a sophomore
• The Hawkeye midfielder are anchored by junior Hailey Rydberg. The St. Charles, Illinois, native started 11 games as a sophomore and has 24 career starts. Junior Josie Durr has three career goals in 33 career games (11 starts).
• Along with sophomore Monica Wilhelm, the Hawkeyes have a total of three underclassmen at the goalkeeper position. Redshirt freshman Sabrina Shaw and freshman Macy Enneking have no collegiate experience.
• The Hawkeyes welcome eight newcomers to the mix in 2021, including two players — Enneking and Jayln Mosley — who joined the program last January.
• Forward/defender Aleisha Ganief played on the Canadian National Team, joining Tawharu, who was a part of the New Zealand Youth National Team prior to becoming a Hawkeye.
NEW DIGS ON THE HORIZON
Construction is underway on the new soccer operations facility at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The $4 million facility, which is expected to open in time for the 2021 fall season, will include a spacious locker room and lounge area, multi-purpose space, athletic training space, visiting team and official locker rooms, and a press box.
• Minnesota is 2-1-2 and sits fourth in the Big Ten standings. The Gophers were picked to finish 13th in the conference by league coaches.
• Gopher Katie Koker was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on March 9, while Megan Plaschko received Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Week honors.
• Minnesota has a victory over Northwestern, who defeated Iowa, 2-0, in the Hawkeyes last game.
• Minnesota leads the series 13-5-4.
• The Hawkeyes won the most recent meeting in 2019 by a score of 2-1.
Iowa travels to Piscataway, New Jersey, to face Rutgers on March 18 at noon (CT).