Iowa field hockey seeks to turn fortunes around in Big Ten Tournament

The No. 7 Iowa field hockey team looks to avenge last year’s loss in the quarterfinals in the Big Ten Tournament against No. 9 Penn State.


David Harmantas

Iowa midfielder Ellie Holley fights to control the ball along the sideline during a field hockey match against Michigan on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. The no. 6 ranked Wolverines defeated the no. 10 ranked Hawkeyes 2-1.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

Last season, the Iowa field-hockey team went 7-11, and its season ended in a 5-1 loss to Penn State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

The No. 9 Hawkeyes have turned it around this year, and they ended regular-season play with a 12-5 record. They have a chance to turn around the outcome of their first round of the Big Ten Tournament as they play No. 7 Penn State again.

There was a three-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten — Iowa defeated Ohio State, Ohio State beat Rutgers, and Rutgers came out with a win over Iowa. In the tiebreaker, both Ohio State and Rutgers were each given an extra point for overtime losses. This put them over Iowa, leaving the Hawkeyes with the No. 6 seed.

“It’s a bit disappointing to have such a success during the year and then finish so low in the Big Ten ladder,” sophomore Maddy Murphy said. “But I think we’ve proved again and again this season that we are of capable of winning big games. I think teams fear us now. We are riding a few losses, but I think as soon as that whistle goes, we’ll be ready to go.”

RELATED: Iowa field hockey falls in regular-season finale

Iowa upset Penn State, 3-2, on Oct. 12, led by Murphy’s hat trick. Penn State, however, has won its last three games of the regular season, finishing with a 12-4 record; the Hawkeyes ended their season on a two-game losing skid. The Nittany Lions went 6-2 in conference play with losses only to Michigan and Iowa, and they are seeded third in the Big Ten Tournament.

Nittany Lion goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo has tallied the third most saves in the Big Ten with 63. Penn State’s offense has proven to be a dominant force — it holds the most shots in the conference (304) while seven athletes have scored 5 or more goals this season.

“They have 12 seniors,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “They have great speed, great skill, especially very right side dominant, and they’re lethal in their counterattacks. I think [it’s] a tall task, but we’re up for the challenge. Penn State is outstanding, and they’re a different beast at home, but our team is confident.”

Despite a rough ending to their season, the Hawkeyes have definitely shown they can match any squad; they have taken then-No. 2 North Carolina to overtime in a 2-1 match and only lost to one team by more than 1 goal. Iowa’s first-half shots (112) and penalty corners (57) are more than their opponents’ total shots (99) and penalty corners (51).

The Hawkeyes will take on the Nittany Lions on Oct. 28 at Happy Valley in Pennslyvania, at 11 a.m. in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

“I think the fuel and the drive that everyone’s got in their bodies right now to take on Penn State is amazing, and we know the potential this team has,” sophomore Ellie Holley. “This is the time for it to shine, and come out, and prove why we’ve been doing so well this season.”

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