Nebraska women’s soccer team hopes to maintain strong early season start

Nebraska goalie Aubrei Corder (25) kicks the ball in a game against Oregon State at Barbara Hibner Stadium on Aug. 26, 2018, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska soccer continued its recent trend of alternating wins and losses in Big Ten play Thursday night, falling 1-0 on the road to the Iowa Hawkeyes in a back-and-forth affair.

While both the Hawkeyes (11-2, 3-2 Big Ten) and Huskers (3-7-2, 2-3 Big Ten) entered Thursday’s contest with an identical conference record, the Hawkeyes boasted a far more impressive resumé over the season’s first month-and-a-half.

In September, Iowa was ranked No. 19 in the United Soccer Coaches poll, its highest ranking in school history. The Hawkeyes were also ranked in the TopDrawerSoccer top 25 for the first time since 2014.

And it’s easy to see why. Iowa is an incredibly balanced team with a dynamic offense that has scored 31 goals over 12 games—the sixth-highest total in the NCAA. 

The Huskers were up for the challenge, though, and the first half saw each squad have chances to score. Hawkeye sophomore midfielder Hailey Rydberg had two quality chances within the first 20 minutes of the match, but her first effort in the eighth minute was saved by Nebraska senior goalkeeper Aubrei Corder and her second strike in the 17th minute hit the crossbar.

Nebraska responded to Iowa’s early offense advances by dominating the next 15 minutes of the match. Sophomore midfielder Hannah Young hit a ball that forced Hawkeye senior goalkeeper Claire Graves to deflect the shot out of bounds for a corner kick in the 24th minute. Sophomore defender Ashley Zugay followed Young’s effort with back-to-back shots in the 29th and 30th minute—but didn’t capitalize on either.

Senior midfielder Meg Brandt had Nebraska’s best look of the first half in the 33rd minute as she found herself with a one-on-one opportunity with Graves. Brandt took a big touch in front of her, and Graves was able to come out and cut down Brandt’s angle, resulting in a big save for the Hawkeyes. 

Nebraska was unable to generate anything in the rest of the first half, and the game entered halftime scoreless.

Iowa came out on the offensive in the match’s final 45 minutes, forcing Corder into saves in the 53rd and 58th minutes. Nebraska responded with an offensive flurry of its own 12 minutes later, as senior midfielder Brenna Ochoa fired a shot that went over the goal in the 70th minute.

Freshman forward Emma Marcus attempted to give Nebraska the lead in the 77th minute, but Graves turned her effort aside. Nebraska’s defense broke down in the 80th minute to give Iowa a 1-0 lead, as freshman forward Gianna Gourley curled in a 12-yard effort past Corder. The goal marked Gourley’s first of her college career and was also the last chance of the game for either team.

The Huskers wasted a spectacular effort from Corder, as she had a season-high seven saves. Credit goes to senior defender Sinclaire Miramontez and sophomore defender Olivia Brown for keeping Iowa’s dynamic offense off the board for most of the game, but Nebraska couldn’t generate the offensive opportunities to earn a win.

Nebraska will look to salvage something from its road trip on Sunday, Oct. 6 when the Huskers visit Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on the No. 24 Michigan Wolverines. The game kicks off at 12:00 p.m. and will be streamed on BTN+.