Iowa field hockey wins Big Ten Tournament

The Hawkeyes got the job done in overtime on Sunday to take home the Big Ten Tournament crown.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Maddy Murphy jumps to block a pass during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 2-1.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

The No. 2 seed Iowa field hockey team didn’t need more than 23 extra seconds after regulation ended to clinch the Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday, 1-0, against five-seeded Penn State.

Freshman Esme Gibson ran the ball along the right sideline before passing it into the circle. Iowa’s leading scorer in the regular season, Maddy Murphy, was positioned near the left corner of the goal and shot the ball in off a pass from sophomore Leah Zellner.

“I saw the open space down the sideline, and I knew Maddy would be in there for the tip,” Leah Zellner said. “I just kept pulling in, carrying it strong on the baseline, gave her the pass and she put it in.”

Getting to that point took a full four periods of defense, which Iowa has been known for all season. Goalkeeper Leslie Speight saved five shots on her goal in the first half to keep the game scoreless.

Iowa’s offense put pressure on the Nittany Lions in the second half, with junior Ellie Holley stepping up and taking the ball to the perimeter of the circle multiple times.

“The first few seconds of the game it was unreal,” Zellner said. “We knew Penn State was going to be a really tough game, and it came down to who wanted it more, and I just think we really wanted it a lot.”

The journey to this moment didn’t happen overnight. Last season, the Hawkeyes got close but finished as runner ups in the conference final. This year, they worked hard to take that extra step and come out on top.

“We worked so hard for the past twelve months with putting [in] a lot of effort,” Murphy said. “We stayed through the summer, we put in every day, we’re coached by just fantastic coaches, and our seniors are incredible. Everyone on this team just put in every single day, so today was just one of the fun times.”

Iowa got through Ohio State in the first round of the tournament to make it to the semifinals against Northwestern. The semifinal game was postponed twice due to weather and field conditions, but the Hawkeyes rolled past them to make their second title game in as many years.

Senior Katie Birch was a big part of that action, taking home the honor of tournament MVP. She was also named one of three unanimous 2019 first-team All-Big Ten selection.

“We had game changers [on Sunday] all over the field, and actually through the course of the tournament,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “Everyone contributed, and that’s what you need to do to win a championship.”

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