Aug. 29, 2007
The year 2006 brought a new coach with a new attitude to the Iowa Hawkeyes soccer team. After season that saw the Hawkeyes win more games than the previous two seasons combined, head coach Ron Rainey returns for his second season at the helm of the Iowa program. Experience will be a factor as nine seniors and 20 letterwinners return for the 2007 campaign.
"Our seniors have played a lot of games," Rainey said. "We are figuring out how hard we have to work day in and day out to be successful and win matches."
New additions to the roster include nine freshmen, some of whom Rainey believes will contribute immediately.
"Some of the freshmen coming in will have important roles on this year's team," Rainey said. "There will be competition at some spots and we will see what they can do at the beginning of fall camp."
Rainey retains all of his assistant coaches from a year ago in Eric Golz, Eileen Narcotta and volunteer assistant Stacy Welp.
Before spending his first season with the Hawkeyes last year, Golz came 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 NCAA Tournament berths in 2004 and 2005.
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. Welp also brings many years of experience to the team, including over 15 seasons of coaching at the collegiate level.
With the depth and experience on this Hawkeye roster, Rainey still believes there is much more room for improvement.
"Our goal is to be more competitive," said Rainey, who holds a career 96-76-23 record. "I have a lot of confidence in this team. The newcomers we have coming in this fall combined with the players we already have on our roster have the potential to excel in the Big Ten."
In 2007, the Hawkeyes will carry five goalkeepers, three of which will be true freshmen. Returning will be senior Lindsey Boldt, who started five games a year ago, as well as sophomore Erica Clausen.
Despite depth at the position, Rainey believes goalkeeper will be the biggest personnel question mark heading into fall camp.
"Lindsey certainly has the most experience of the group," Rainey said. "Incoming freshman Kali Feiereisel has a lot of club experience under her belt. There may be others who step up and surprise us but we want to find some stability at the position. The starter spot is really wide open."
The defense got organized and took a big step last year, as the Hawkeyes gave up 28 less goals in 2006 than were allowed in 2005. For the second year in a row, the Hawkeyes return the entire back line, including seniors Sarah Stephenson, Claire Goldenberg, Abby Gierke and Megan Love.
"Our defense can get better," Rainey said. "We expect our seniors to lead the defense and consolidate the improvements we made last season".
A wildcard on defense is junior Katie Smeltzer, whose status for the 2007 season is in question after a knee surgery. More emphasis may be placed on newcomers to provide depth, including freshman Jenna Aleo, who could see a lot of the field in her first season.
Anchoring the midfield is 2006 team Most Valuable Player Kelsey Shaw, who finished the season with five points while starting all 19 games. The junior was also named the team's Offensive MVP and will be relied upon heavily in the middle of the field.
Junior Kelly Warner, who made the transition to midfield from defense in 2006, will likely be starting next to Shaw. Redshirt sophomore Jackie Kaeding, who missed last season due to injury, will provide more depth and athleticism at the position. Also competing for minutes will be sophomores Katie Smokowski and Alexandria Seydel, who started every game as a freshman last season.
"It definitely helps having players back who got a ton of playing time in the fall," Rainey said. "We're lucky to have Jackie back and Kelsey, Kelly, Katie and Alex give us players with some game experience."
The Hawkeyes will return three starters from last year's team who will be depended on to create scoring opportunities. Junior Stephanie Hyink, who led the Hawkeyes in points last season (eight), will be joined by seniors Kelsie Full (7p) and Melissa Kaetterhenry (4p) in leading the offensive attack. Freshman Keli McLaughlin will also challenge for playing time immediately.
"One of our main goals is to create more scoring opportunities," Rainey said. "Our forwards are very good at running at people and we look for them to have more composure when they are finishing in order to turn shots into goals."