Iowa field hockey hangs on to beat Duke in NCAA Tournament

After an early-season defeat, the Hawkeyes got the last laugh against Duke with a 3-2 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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Iowa field hockey hangs on to beat Duke in NCAA Tournament

Iowa players celebrate their victory 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 players celebrate their victory 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 players celebrate their victory 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 players celebrate their victory during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 2-1.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

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The Hawkeyes are one step closer to a national championship.

After a crushing loss earlier in the year at the hands of Duke, No. 6 Iowa defeated the eighth-ranked Blue Devils Friday afternoon in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes will face the defending champion Tar Heels on Sunday.

The Hawkeyes were the definition of opportunistic as they scored on all three of their shots on goal.

Iowa led the entire game after Leah Zellner opened the scoring in the sixth minute. The Hawkeyes led 3-0 at halftime as Ciara Smith added two more tallies in the eleventh and 26th minutes.

“That was a lot of fun,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We got off to a great start. That was one of our goals – try and put some goals on the board early. We had a fantastic first two quarters, and then we played great defense down the stretch.”

Duke scored two second-half goals, both coming on dead-ball plays. Haley Schleicher converted on a penalty stroke and Lily Posternak scored on a penalty corner. The Blue Devils controlled the momentum for much of the third and fourth quarters, but it wasn’t enough.

Senior goalkeeper Leslie Speight kept the Hawkeyes on top with five saves in the contest and two crucial stops in the 40th minute just three minutes after Schleicher converted for the Blue Devils’ first score.

North Carolina, who defeated Stanford, 4-0, in its first-round matchup, is No. 1 in the nation and has yet to lose a game this year. The Tar Heels beat Iowa 2-1 back on Sept. 1 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

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