Maddy Murphy and Katie Birch bring strong leadership for Iowa field hockey

Maddy Murphy and Katie Birch bring their talents to Iowa.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa forward Maddy Murphy prepares for a penalty corner during a field hockey match between Iowa and California on Friday, September 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bears, 4-2.

Jahlynn Hancock, Sports Reporter

Since the field hockey season has begun, senior midfielder and defender Katie Birch and junior forward Maddy Murphy have emerged as significant, focused, and competitive leaders. 

Birch, originally from York, England, brings a different take of field hockey and applies that to her performance not only on the field, but also in the classroom. 

Birch was first introduced to field hockey at age five by her father. Now she is to be the leader in assists, shots, and points for the 2019 season. Last year, she was named a second team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.

Murphy, originally from Riana, Tasmania, was also named a second team All-American following her performance in 2018. She led the team in goals in 2018 with 13. 

Last season, both Birch and Murphy started in all 21 games and managed to assist the team and each other with different leadership and individual accomplishments. Murphy and Birch share not only an interpersonal connection, but their team connectivity goes a long way when it comes to bringing home a victory.

“[Murphy] is a phenomenal competitor,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “She brings so many opportunities to the team.”

Those opportunities include physical and mental strength to lead the team as a whole. Despite the different positions, Murphy and Birch go hand-in-hand on the field.

“[Birch] is a leader and great teammate to have,” Murphy said. “She’s strong physically, and that’s what you need to play field hockey.”

Field hockey is both a physical and mental sport, and Murphy and Birch both bring their own levels of physical and mental strength in different ways to perform at their highest level.

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Following last weekend’s game against No. 2 Duke, the physical toughness and mental strength was shown in Birch. After taking a hit to the face, she continued to play during the entire overtime period. 

“It’s field hockey. The game is physical, so you have to take it and keep going. That will only make you better,” Birch said. “I love field hockey. It’s my passion, and I see it as an important part in my life.”

Birch and Murphy can be identified as a working duo, as they not only assist one another but the team as a whole to have both group and individual success. Through their energy, attitude, and skill level, Murphy and Birch are two individuals to keep an eye on during the rest of the season. 

The Hawkeyes are currently 4-2, with a home record of 3-0. With Birch and Murphy at the helm, they are looking to bring home another  win  Saturday against Kent State in Ann Arbor, Michigan.