Aug 26, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two games, two wins -- the 19th and 20th straight against nonconference foes -- has become the norm for the University of Iowa soccer team during this time of the year. The Hawkeyes know this is just the beginning.
"Sure, we got two wins, but we still have to connect as a team by working to play with each other and connect on our passing better," said junior Melanie Pickert. "(This) is still preseason, it is nonconference. We know we have to continue working and figure things out in practice."
The Hawkeyes were tested in the regular-season opener, needing a penalty kick goal from Lana Bonekemper in the 75th minute to down Drake on Aug. 23 in Des Moines, Iowa.
On Sunday, Iowa jumped out to a 1-0 lead via a Pickert strike on a free kick in the 44th minute, but Western Michigan fought back to tie the game in the 70th minute, forcing Iowa to show some early season resiliency.
"It is nice to start a season in a way where there are teams that are going to come and play straight up. We have to understand that we're not always going to win games 5-0. We have to continue battling and figure things out."
UI redshirt junior Katie Nasenbenny
"When we got tied up, it was good to come back with a couple of quick goals near the end of the game," said UI head coach Ron Rainey. "But I feel like we could have done a better job the 10-15 minutes before that.
"We are in a mode where if we have a one goal lead, we want to have the attitude to get a second goal, instead of defending the lead."
Pickert scored the game-winner -- the first of her career -- for the Hawkeyes in the 75th minute after corralling the ball off a corner kick and finishing into the upper right hand corner. It was Pickert's first career two-goal game.
"Mel had a great game," said redshirt junior Katie Nasenbenny. "She was a part of every one of our goals."
Nasenbenny says being tested early in the season will help the Hawkeyes because as the season progresses, the competition level will be tougher and goals will be harder to come by.
"It is nice to start a season in a way where there are teams that are going to come and play straight up," said Nasenbenny. "We have to understand that we're not always going to win games 5-0. We have to continue battling and figure things out."
Rainey was happy with Iowa's effort during the opening weekend. The team created chances -- 35 shots, 19 on goal -- but he says the team needs to slow down, execute, and finish.
"You could see Western Michigan was desperate to get a result, and we want to play the same way," said Rainey. "When we were patient and broke people down with short passing, possession, and moving the ball, we were able to create some chances."
The Hawkeyes head to Stockton, Calif., for a pair of matches next weekend. Iowa faces UC Davis in a neutral site game Friday at 6 p.m. (CT) before facing Pacific on its home field Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT).