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Olympic Sports begin seasons, Iowa soccer starts hot

Here’s some love for the Hawkeye sports that don’t get much love

The Daily Iowan/Ting Xuan Tan

Here, across the rest of the internets, and places you consume news, you probably don’t read a ton about Iowa’s non-revenue sports. This is partially because the information isn’t as accessible as is football or basketball, and partially because you may not find those sports as interesting.

I’m going to blindly guess you just don’t know as much about them as you could, and if you did know, you’d be a bigger fan. I’m trying not to write this in a cliché way, but one of the coolest parts about attending a school like Iowa was having the chance to kill some time on a Friday afternoon or a lazy Sunday by watching a sport you’d probably never watch otherwise in person, for free. There’s something pure about watching people you see in class or around campus compete in front of a couple hundred people, if that, rather than tens of thousands.

Enough of my love fest for Hawkeye Olympic sports — let’s see how the three in action began their respective seasons.

Soccer

The Dave DiIanni-coached squad had a solid start to open the season, sitting at 3-1 with wins over Missouri, Creighton, and Wyoming and a loss to Eastern Michigan. Freshman Devin Burns has been an early sparkplug for the Hawkeyes, with her six points (two goals, two assists) complimenting senior/badass/player pictured above Bri Toelle’s two goals.

Following the graduation of starting goalie Hannah Clark, freshman Claire Graves has settled nicely into net for the Hawkeyes after a rough debut in which she allowed five goals against Creighton. She’s only allowed three total in as many contests since, and will have to continue to do so if the Hawks want to avoid another poor Big Ten season.

Last year, after winning six of its non-conference games, Iowa managed only one victory and one tie once Big Ten play began, finishing 7-10-1 overall. Sustaining non-con success is key for this year’s squad, and something to keep an eye on the rest of the year.

Field Hockey

Since longtime coach Tracey Griesbaum was let go under, um, questionable (my thoughts are for another day) circumstances by Gary Barta a few days before the beginning of the 2014 season, the Iowa program has taken a huge hit. Not often is it a great look for a team to have its two best players awaiting decision on an outstanding Title IX complaint against the University and its Athletic Director, but hey, here we are.

Those two best players are redshirt senior Natalie Cafone and senior Chandler Ackers, who each had a goal and assist over the weekend at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where the Hawks beat No. 7 Wake Forest and lost to top-ranked North Carolina.

This is likely a welcome start for a team that endured a painful 9-10 campaign last season without All-American Cafone, who redshirted due to a shoulder injury suffered in the previous year’s Big Ten Championship game. Despite 2015 leading scorer Steph Norlander’s departure to compete internationally for Team Canada, the 2016 Hawkeyes get a huge boost with Cafone back for one more season. At a minimum, they’re an interesting story to watch unfold after two years of futility, largely due to having a staple of collegiate field hockey ripped out from under them.

Volleyball

Well, would you look at that — Iowa volleyball is 3-0 to start the season. The Hawkeyes swept their season opening tournament at Northern Illinois to get off to a perfect start in Year Three of the Bond Shymansky era.

Senior Alyssa Klostermann picked up her 1,000th career assist over the weekend, as Lauren Brobst registered 38 kills in three contests, leading her second-place teammate Reghan Coyle, by 18 kills. Loxley Keala led the way setting for the Hawks, totaling 118 helpers.

Shymansky inherited a program that had seen much better days, and after seeing a dip in conference victories (six in year one, two in year two), a big focus has to be much like that of DiIanni’s group — win conference games.


We’ll keep you updated on all things Hawkeyes here at the Pants as the seasons progress. For those of you that want to kill some time and entertain me — what’s your favorite non-revenue Hawkeye sporting event you’ve attended?