For the second-straight season the University of Iowa women's soccer team has fallen one game short of being crowned Big Ten champions.The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes fell to No. 2-seeded and 11th-ranked Wisconsin, 1-0, in the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex.
"I'm very proud of the way our team played today," said UI head coach Dave DiIanni. "It's tough to lose that way, and it's difficult and disappointing for our kids and our program. Everyone wrote us off going into this game, but our kids kept on fighting, and I'm very proud of them."
Opportunities were limited for the Hawkeyes offensively throughout the entire game. Iowa was held to six shots, including only one shot on goal, which came in the 54th-minute when sophomore Corey Burns sent a free kick over a wall of Badger defenders only to be saved by the Big Ten's Goalkeeper of the Year, Genevieve Richard.
"We took a big hit offensively when Melanie Pickert went down in Wednesday's game," said DiIanni. "That forced Emily Scott to drop back and play as a defender, which is something she hasn't trained for this season, and she did a great job at it."
The Badgers, on the other hand, dominated offensively, firing off 24 shots on the day, with eight being on goal.
After the Hawkeye defense cleared a Badger attack in the 94th-minute, junior goalkeeper Hannah Clark went down with an injury to her arm. Clark held Wisconsin's potent offensive attack scoreless through 93:12 minutes of action before being sidelined for the rest of the game. The Fort Collins, Colo., native notched six saves on the day, pushing her tournament total to 20 over the course of three games.
Senior goalkeeper Kiley Beck entered at goalkeeper for the first time since Sept. 5 when the Hawkeyes fell at Iowa State, 2-1.
It took Wisconsin 213:09 minutes to score a goal against Iowa in two games this season, but that one goal proved to be huge. Just over three minutes into the second overtime, Wisconsin's Kinley McNicoll fired a corner kick that wrapped its way around the Iowa defense and Beck to give the Badgers a 1-0 victory and a Big Ten title.
"Wisconsin is the best attacking team in the conference, and you saw that today," said DiIanni. "We took some things away from them, but then they were able to find other things. We had to adjust an awful lot today, and to be honest, toward the end of the game, we started to get tired. We withstood a lot of their pressure; we knew it was going to come, but in the end, it was just too much."
Senior Cloe Lacasse and Clark were both named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team for their play over the course of the week.
"Hopefully the NCAA calls our name tomorrow, but we definitely needed a win today to assure that," said DiIanni.
Iowa (14-8-1) awaits word on its NCAA Tournament fate. The selection show will take place at 3:30 p.m. Monday.