It is hard to believe that the Iowa soccer team was facing a potential win or go home scenario in its regular season finale Saturday, but that is exactly what was at stake.
Win and the Hawkeyes advance to the Big Ten Tournament. Lose or tie and the season is effectively over.
Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, senior Dana Dalrymple and Cloe Lacasse came through with one goal each as Iowa walked away from the Iowa Soccer Complex with a 2-1 win and will play in the Big Ten Tournament for the seventh time in program history.
Iowa had the chance to play for a berth in the Big Ten Tournament after Ohio State beat Indiana in another crucial Big Ten Conference matchup. The upset of the Badgers (12-6-1, 5-5-1) sent the Hawkeyes (12-5-3, 3-5-3) past the Hoosiers for the final tourney berth.
“I’m just really proud of the team,” said Iowa head coach Ron Rainey. “It was a really important win for a number of reasons. I thought what was great is that we had a really good week of practice, and that carried over to this game.”
The match also featured Senior Day as Allie Adam, Gabby Ainsworth, Stef Campbell, Jade Grimm, Kat Lewis and Dalrymple was honored before the contest. And they will go out in style as Iowa’s 12 wins are second in program history. The Hawkeyes can tie the school record mark set last year with a win in Wednesday’s Big Ten Tourney opener.
Iowa out-shot Wisconsin 11-1 in the first half and finally just got on the board just before intermission. After a corner kick from Grimm, Melanie Pickert took shot in the box that was blocked. Lacasse tracked down the ball, sent a cross from inside the box to Dalrymple, who then sent a header past the Badger keeper in the 42nd minute.
“It was really special,” said Dalrymple on her goal. “It’s the last time I’ll every play on this field, so it was an emotional experience. To get a goal and a win, that was crucial for us.”
Freshman Meg Goodson started in goal for the Hawkeyes, but Iowa’s stout defense didn’t allow the Badgers to test Goodson with a shot on frame. The Van Meter, Iowa, native has a 0.78 goals against average this season.
The Hawkeyes started the second half like they played the first half, but was rewarded much sooner for their efforts in the final session. Lacasse took a pass in the attacking third and maneuvered past two Badgers and buried a shot from 15 yards to give the Hawkeyes the decisive two-goal advantage.
Wisconsin delayed Iowa’s celebration with a goal in the 70th minute as junior forward Paige Adams scored her seventh goal of the season.
Lacasse led the offense with three points with a goal and an assists as Iowa held on for the thrilling victory. She took seven shots, which ties her high mark for shots in a match this season. Lacasse moves to second in program history for season goals (13) and points (33), and third in career goals (25) and points (63).
Junior Ashley Catrell, Pickert and Dalrymple also had two shots. Hannah Clark made two crucial saves for Iowa in the second half. She has a 0.94 goals against average this season.
The tournament seeds and brackets will officially be announced Sunday following the conclusion of all conference matches. The tournament will be hosted by Indiana, and runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.
Iowa is guaranteed the No. 8 seed, which will pit them against top-seeded Penn State, who won their 15th consecutive Big Ten championship.
The No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed match will be this Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The Hawkeyes went toe-to-toe with the Nittany Lions in the regular season, falling 2-1 on Oct. 14 in Iowa City.
“We told the team that we want to enjoy this for a bit, and then start looking forward to playing Penn State,” said Rainey. “We will have to play our best game of the year. Their program is very, very good, but I feel like we competed well against them last time, and we need that to carry over to Wednesday.”