Oct. 31, 2006
IOWA CITY - Friday night was a sad night as once again another season came to an end. For Ali Becker, the team's lone senior, it was the last game she will ever play. Even with the 1-0 loss to Illinois to end the year, it was a season that Becker can be proud of.
During the offseason, Becker transferred into the program after spending three years as the starting goalkeeper for Ball State. She came to Iowa after previously having much success under first-year Hawkeye coaches, Ron Rainey and Eileen Narcotta. Last season, she was named to the All-Great Lakes third team.
By starting as a freshman, Becker proved to Rainey long ago that she had the mentality of wanting to be on the field, as well as the work ethic on and off the field. When she came to Iowa she won the two conditioning tests in the preseason which set the tone. She came in fit and ready to establish herself as a starting goalkeeper.
Becker finished the season with four shutouts, 56 saves, and a 1.01 goals-against average. Two of her shutouts came against Indiana and Purdue, both ranked in the top 25. Her first shutout of the season against came South Carolina and was the program's first shutout since 2002.
"She matured through her four years and was able to add some different things to her game," said Rainey. "It was interesting seeing her play against Big Ten competition, because it's definitely a much higher level. She did some nice things throughout the season for us."
The reason for the transfer with only one year left wasn't just because of Rainey leaving Ball State for Iowa. Becker had always wanted to attend Iowa. A native of Bettendorf, she always wanted to play for Iowa after high school. At the time, Iowa had just recruited two goalkeepers so she decided on Ball State, where Rainey was recruiting her.
While at Ball State, Becker had always thought about transferring to Iowa. During her junior year, she thought about it a lot. She would be closer to home and could go to dental school, which Ball State doesn't have.
"Everything just fell into place for me to be able to transfer here," said Becker. "I found a place to live right away and everything worked out great to graduate on time."
Coming in, Becker said it was hard at first. The coaches knew her strengths and weaknesses. They knew what to coach her on, but interacting with the team was different. Although the girls welcomed her, they had, for the most part, been together for a few years. Becker felt that she had to prove herself and show that she belonged.
Her experience helped the team on the field. Off the field she was able share her experiences with the other goalkeepers. She would occasionally give them tips that she picked up throughout her career.
Her off the field presence was called upon when she was injured against Nebraska and was sidelined for five games.
"At that point she was rehabbing and offering some feedback to Lindsey Boldt and Erica Clausen," Rainey said. I think it was one of those things where you do whatever you can as a starter and support the other goalkeepers that are in there. It worked out well during those five games."
Even though she was trying to support the other goalkeepers, she was still frustrated. It was mentally challenging because she had only sat out one game during her entire career.
"I just wanted to be positive on the sidelines," said Becker. If I wasn't going to be on the field helping the team, then I wanted to be off the field helping the team."
Although Becker was only on the team for one season, her presence benefited everyone.
As for the rest of the year, she will be graduating in the spring and possibly attending dental school next fall. She's unsure whether to go to dental school next year or take a year off.