Aug. 22, 2006
It's a new beginning for Iowa women's soccer and first-year Head Coach Ron Rainey.
Rainey, who was an assistant at Iowa (1997-98), returns to Iowa City after a successful seven-year stint at Ball State. The Cardinals posted a 70-52-17 record under Rainey, including a 62-25-14 record over the last five seasons. He was named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2001.
"We want our athletes to do everything at a Big Ten championship level," Rainey said. "Results happen from doing things at a high level and by not taking shortcuts. Our players should have that mentality-whether it's during training, matches or in the classroom. Results will take care of themselves, but we want this mentality to develop over the season."
Rainey inherits a young, but experienced squad that includes 18 letterwinners. Thirteen of the 24 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores while 10 are juniors. The lone senior, Ali Becker, is a transfer from Ball State. The majority of underclassmen, however, either started or saw a majority of playing time in 2005.
"A new coach means a new direction," Rainey said. "We have a young squad that will be able to see what direction we as coaches want the program to follow. These changes will develop over more than one season. Our hope is that this program will eventually be competing for Big Ten titles."
Rainey is not the only new face on the Hawkeye coaching staff. Eric Golz and Eileen Narcotta are also in their first season at Iowa.
Golz comes from Bowling Green where he served as an assistant for two seasons. He helped guide the Falcons to their first MAC regular season and tournament titles along with two NCAA tournament berths.
Narcotta was an assistant coach with Rainey for four seasons at Ball State. She helped the Cardinals to a 15-3-2 record in 2005 and has coached two goalkeepers to all-MAC honors.
The Hawkeyes have three goalkeepers who will be competing for time in 2006. Junior Lindsey Boldt played in eight matches with seven starts in 2005 before an injury sidelined her for the rest of the season.
Transfer Ali Becker comes to Iowa from Ball State where she was a second team all-MAC pick in 2005. Becker allowed only 11 goals last season and posted nine shutouts. She led the MAC in three different statistical categories and was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Scholar All-Region third team. Freshman Erica Clausen could also see some time in net during 2006.
"There will be great competition for the goalkeeper position," Rainey said. "It's great to see Lindsey return from injury and we are glad to have Ali with us for her senior year. She is a player with a lot of experience and is very positive. It will also be good for Erica to compete against Ali and Lindsey and learn the college game from an experienced teammate."
Experience is abundant in the Hawkeye back line, with all six defenders returning from the 2005 squad. Juniors Claire Goldenberg and Sarah Stephenson are solid on the wings while junior Megan Love returns in central defense. Both Stephenson and Love started all 19 matches last season while Goldenberg impressed Rainey in both spring and pre-season drills. Juniors Kim Lewis and Abby Gierke, along with sophomore Katie Smeltzer, will battle for time in defense. Freshman Alexandria Seydel and Ashley Trudell will also compete for time in the Hawkeye back line.
"We have focused quite a bit on organization in the back," Rainey said. "We need to work more as a team instead of individuals. Defenders like Claire, Sarah and Megan will help us solidify our backline."
Another large group of experienced players make up the Hawkeye midfield. Sophomore Kelsey Shaw will anchor the central midfielders after an impressive freshman season in 2005. Shaw netted four goals, including the game-winner against Purdue, and started all 19 matches. Junior Katie Mulvahill returns as a wing midfielder after tallying two assists as a sophomore. Joining Mulvahill on the wings will be sophomore Manon Engelhardt, who scored two goals and added three assists in 2005 while playing both midfield and forward roles.
Sophomore Kelly Warner will join the midfield in 2006 after starting 15 games as a central defender last season. Junior Ashley Schlueter and sophomore Jackie Kaeding could also see time in the midfield. Kaeding is currently rehabbing an injury and her status for 2006 season is questionable.
The freshmen duo of Heather Windsor and Kathleen Smokowski could also see the pitch at midfield in 2006.
"Our midfielders need to control the tempo and flow of the match." Rainey said. "Kelsey (Shaw) will be depended for her ball-winning skills and needs to connect our midfield with our attack. Players like Kelly and Ashley can help us as attacking midfielders."
Three returning players, along with two freshmen, will make up the Hawkeye attack this season. Leading the forwards will be sophomore Stephanie Hyink and junior Melisa Kaetterhenry. As a freshman, Hyink led the team with 15 points (six goals, three assists) and 17 of her 25 shots were on goal. Kaetterhenry scored in three consecutive matches last year and finished with seven points (three goals, one assist). Junior Kelsie Full, along with freshmen Nicole Slevin and Kelsey McCarron, will also battle for time up front.
"Our forwards are a hard-working group," Rainey said. "We have athletic people up front who have the ability to get behind defenses. Melisa and Stephanie will be counted on to play well and put the ball in the net. We will need to take advantage of the opportunities we create for ourselves."