National championship not out of reach for Hawkeyes

Another 2-0 weekend has come and gone for the Iowa Hawkeyes. As the latter half of the season begins, the championship chase begins for Iowa.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa midfielder Katie Birch handles the ball during a field hockey match between Iowa and Ohio State on Friday, September 27, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 2-1.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

Winning and Iowa field hockey are two terms that have become nearly synonymous. High standards and winning culture drive the Hawkeyes year after year. In 2019, it appears Iowa is ready to assert its dominance yet again.

After dispatching Rutgers 2-1 on Oct. 4, Iowa’s win over UC Davis secured yet another undefeated weekend for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has now played three weekend home stints without a loss. Iowa’s only defeat at Grant Field came against Duke, who came into the game ranked 2nd in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll.

The Hawkeyes’ two losses this season have come against NFHCA ranked teams. In fact, Iowa’s other loss came against No. 1 North Carolina.

“When you play for Iowa field hockey, our goals are always win a Big Ten Championship, get to the Final Four, and of course, try to compete for a national championship,” Cellucci said. “We have a long way to go before we get that, but we got to go step-by-step. I think anything’s possible. There’s a ton of parity this year in college field hockey.”

Cellucci and her team’s high expectations are obviously warranted. Iowa’s résumé is more than impressive. Last season, the Hawkeyes had a nice run in the Big Ten Tournament, winning two games. Iowa was also able to make an NCAA Tournament appearance last year.

After exiting last year’s NCAA tournament earlier than anticipated, Iowa has shown championship level drive in 2019. The Hawkeyes did not waste any time getting redemption against the team that defeated them in the NCAAs. Iowa downed Wake Forest in its first matchup of the regular season.

This season’s iteration of the Hawkeyes now sits at 9-2 on the season. They have defeated four NFHCA ranked teams and boast a 3-0 conference record. The Hawkeyes have also posted an astonishing .818 win percentage and are currently riding a five game win streak.

Much like her coach, senior Katie Birch is not shying away from the justifiably high expectations.

“I’ve liked our energy,” said Birch. “It is such a good environment, and we’re all having so much fun. We just love being together. We’re all here to win championships, and just play for each other. I think [a national title] is the goal every season. We know we have the talent this season. We know we’ve worked hard. Nothing is guaranteed; we’ve got to keep grinding. I wish there was a simple formula, but we just have to keep playing as a team and get better every week.”

Expectations are high and plentiful for Iowa field hockey as they appear to be on the brink of a spectacular season. While championships are the goal, the Hawkeyes know the season is long. They remain fixated on their goal while pacing themselves and remaining in the moment. 

Championships don’t happen instantly. Championships happen one game at a time, and the Hawkeyes know that.

“We’re taking one game at a time,” said sophomore Leah Zellner. “Big Ten play is still coming up, so we’re really excited for this upcoming weekend. We’re just going to take one weekend at a time.”

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