Nov. 14, 2013
By ERIC CLARK
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- After being selected to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, University of Iowa soccer players used several words to describe what they've been feeling in preparation for Friday's first round match against Notre Dame. "Pressure" was not one of them.
"Our team is pretty relaxed," said UI head coach Ron Rainey. "Our players are excited, and we know the enormity of the game."
The Hawkeyes went through an hour-long practice Thursday at Alumni Stadium. Rainey says the team needs to be ready to play though all emotions and scenarios Friday.
"We have to be ready in case we score a goal, give up a goal, if we're attacking or defending," he said. "It has been helpful being on this field (today) and seeing how it is playing. Those things will help us as we visualize the first 10-15 minutes of tomorrow's game."
The Hawkeyes set two school records in the past week, notching their first two Big Ten Tournament victories and pushing their win total to 15, the most in program history.
Senior Ashley Catrell says the Hawkeyes want to take advantage of the momentum they built up in the Big Ten Tournament.
"We're looking to stay hot," said Catrell. "It's going to be important for us to have our heads on straight. If we come out and play like we did in the Big Ten Tournament, we'll have a good chance."
Standing in the way of Iowa's first NCAA Tournament victory is a Notre Dame squad that was selected with an at-large bid after going 11-7-1 in the regular season. The Irish are no strangers to the postseason, qualifying for the tournament for the 21st consecutive season.
"Notre Dame looks excellent on film," said Rainey. "We want to be as even keel as possible because there will be some highs and lows in the game tomorrow."
Junior Caitlin Brown says Iowa has embraced the role of underdog the entire postseason.
"I don't think anybody expects anything from us," said Brown. "We were underdogs in the Big Ten Tournament, and we did pretty well there, so I think we do well with pressure."
Friday's game is set to begin at 6 p.m. (CT). Fans can watch the action live and free of charge at WatchND.tv.