Hawkeye field hockey victorious in Big Ten quarterfinal

No. 7 Iowa field hockey upset No. 9 Penn State for a second time this season, earning a spot in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.


David Harmantas

Iowa midfielder Mya Christopher battles for possession during a field hockey match against Penn State on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

When the Hawkeye field-hockey squad faced Penn State during the regular season, it came away with a 3-2 win led by sophomore Maddy Murphy’s hat trick. On Sunday, Iowa played Penn State, again, for a spot in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. The Hawkeyes prevailed, once more, in a 3-2 victory, but not without a fight. This game was won as a team — three Hawkeyes notched scores.

Iowa started off slowly, only recording 1 shot and no penalty corners in the first 35 minutes. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, had 3 shots, 1 of which hit the back of the net, putting Penn State up 1-0 at halftime.

After halftime, the rejuvenated Hawkeyes came to play, tallying their first penalty corner of the match seven minutes in. Around three minutes later junior Sophie Sunderland scored the equalizer on a redirect from freshman Anthe Nijziel.

The Hawkeyes continued their momentum and hit another second-half goal, this one by sophomore Ellie Holley assisted by Nijziel. Iowa was up 2-1 with 18 minutes left.

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Despite 2 crucial saves by junior Leslie Speight, Penn State’s offense didn’t give up, and it scored the equalizer at 68:46, sending the game into overtime.

Both teams came out to battle in the first overtime period, but each goalkeeper made 2 critical saves to keep her team alive.

Speight continued to protect the net in the second overtime, tallying 2 additional saves. Speight registered 10 saves throughout the match — a career high. Speight has now recorded 8 or more saves in three games this year.

With only about five minutes left in the second overtime, the Hawkeyes were awarded another penalty corner. Murphy sent in the entry pass, Nijziel put it away, and the Hawkeyes had upset the third-seeded Nittany Lions for the second time this season. The victory marked Iowa’s first win in the Big Ten Tournament since 2013.

Penn State outshot Iowa, 18-12, and was awarded 3 more penalty corners than the Hawkeyes, but Iowa’s penalty-corner execution carried it to a victory. All of Iowa’s goals were scored on penalty corners, hitting on half of the ones it was awarded.

Nijziel played a huge role for the Hawkeyes, tallying 2 assists and the game-winning goal, ending the day with 4 points. She has been a key player for Iowa all season, this being her fifth goal and third and fourth assists.

“We started slowly and found ourselves in a hole in the first half,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said in a release. “We made adjustments at halftime, and we were a whole different team in the second half. We showed unbelievable grit in both overtimes. I am so proud of the team. On to the semifinals.”

Iowa will battle second-seeded Michigan in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Evanston. During their last matchup, the Hawkeyes lost to the Wolverines, 2-1, at Grant Field.

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