Field hockey advances to Big Ten semifinals

The Hawkeyes got out to a fast start on their way to downing Ohio State 4-1 and advancing to the next round.

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Field hockey advances to Big Ten semifinals

Iowa forward Leah Zellner keeps the ball away from a Northwestern player during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 2-1.

Iowa forward Leah Zellner keeps the ball away from a Northwestern player during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 2-1.

Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Leah Zellner keeps the ball away from a Northwestern player during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 2-1.

Hannah Kinson

Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Leah Zellner keeps the ball away from a Northwestern player during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 2-1.

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor

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The second-seeded Iowa field hockey team downed seventh-seeded Ohio State 4-1 on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal.

With the win, the Hawkeyes advance to the conference tournament semifinals for the second straight year.

“It’s incredible to move onto [the semifinals],” senior Katie Birch said in a release. “It’s another fantastic opportunity to show what Iowa field hockey is all about. We’re so excited to be here. We’re having so much fun. We know whoever we end up playing, it’s going to be a battle.”

Three first-half goals propelled Iowa to an early lead, one they would not relinquish. The first Hawkeye goal came from Birch with an assist from sophomore Ciara Smith. With 14 seconds left in the first quarter, sophomore Lokke Stribos gave Iowa a 2-0 lead off a penalty corner.

The third Hawkeye goal of the first half was on an unassisted goal from freshman Esme Gibson, the first of her career.

“Esme [Gibson]’s goal was fantastic,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said in a release. “She’s an unbelievable eliminator, and she used her speed and hand speed and put the ball in the right place.”

RELATED: Iowa field hockey’s journey back to the Big Ten Championship begins

In the final minutes of the first half, Iowa was relentless on defense.

The Hawkeyes fought off three Ohio State penalty corner attempts and went into the locker room leading 3-0 at halftime.

“The first half, particularly the first quarter, was outstanding,” Cellucci said in a release. “It was great to get three goals on the board. We started out really fast. That was a part of our game — trying to put Ohio State under pressure right away and take away their momentum. We did a fantastic job of that.”

Ohio State scored a goal with less than a minute remaining in the game, but it was too little too late as the Hawkeyes advanced.

The Hawkeyes continue their hunt for a Big Ten Championship 5:30 p.m today against third-seeded Northwestern.

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