Field hockey seniors leave Grant Field with win

In Iowa’s 2-1 win over Northwestern on Saturday, the Hawkeyes sent their seniors out with one final home win.


Emily Wangen

Iowa’s Katie Birch passes the ball during the Iowa field hockey match against Rutgers on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes beat the Scarlet Knights 2-1.

Jahlynn Hancock, Sports Reporter

Throughout their careers, Iowa field hockey’s senior have shown success both on and off the field. In their final home game of the season, they said goodbye to Grant Field on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Northwestern.

The Hawkeyes honored their five departing seniors – Katie Birch, Leslie Speight, Sophie Sunderland, Isabella Solaroli, and Ryley Miller — before the weekend’s matchup.

“We have had an incredible four-year journey here,” Birch said. “Being able to share the day with all of the girls and families has been incredible.”

Iowa field hockey has seen improvement in this senior class from the day they became a Hawkeye to this weekend.

Birch is a current captain and the team’s leader in assists. Through the four years of Birch’s athletic career, she has been a letter winner each season, received first and second team All-Big Ten selection, and been named a NFHCA first team All-West Regional selection.

RELATED: Field hockey downs Northwestern, 2-1

On the season, Sunderland has five goals, four assists, and 14 points. She is a four-year letter winner, was named to the NFHCA second team All-West Regional in her 2018 season, and earned a second team All-Big Ten selection.

“This group has been fantastic with such a wonderful addition to the program,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “I am really glad we could send them out with a win in such a big game.”

The opening minutes of the match were relatively quiet thanks to the play by both defenses. As the first period came to a close, Northwestern’s Saar De Breij struck first to put her team up 1-0 in the 12th minute of the game.

The Hawkeye offense had its chances, however. In the second period, freshman Esme Gibson powered her way through the Wildcat defense but was unable to net a shot on the goal.

In the 40th minute, Iowa finally capitalized. Sophomore Leah Zellner tied the game with a redirected goal, the assist coming from sophomore Lokke Stribos.

Junior Maddy Murphy scored the game-winning goal in the 50th minute with a transition shot off the right side. It was Murphy’s team-leading 11th goal of the season.

“We were able to clean up for our final third, clean up our possession, and move the ball well,” Cellucci said. “That had led to the two fantastic goals.”

Going into their last Big Ten game against No. 7 Michigan on Nov. 3 in Ann Arbor, the Hawkeyes are 12-4 overall with a 6-1 conference record.

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