Defense shines as Iowa field hockey starts season with two wins

Iowa kept a clean sheet in both wins over Penn State and Indiana.

Rutgers+midfielder+Katie+Larmour+keeps+the+ball+away+from+Iowa%E2%80%99s+Sofie+Stribos+during+the+Iowa+field+hockey+match+against+Rutgers+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+4%2C+2019+at+Grant+Field.+The+Hawkeyes+beat+the+Scarlet+Knights+2-1.

Emily Wangen

Rutgers midfielder Katie Larmour keeps the ball away from Iowa’s Sofie Stribos during the Iowa field hockey match against Rutgers on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes beat the Scarlet Knights 2-1.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter


After having its season postponed in the fall because of COVID-19, Iowa field hockey finally got its season underway in Virginia Beach.

The gap between the Hawkeyes last game and their opening game on Saturday was 466 days, so it remained to be seen if Iowa could keep its momentum from last season’s success.

The team lived up to expectations, securing two 1-0 victories over Indiana on Saturday and Penn State on Sunday as Iowa’s defense stole the show.

Against the Hoosiers, the 1-0 scoreline did not reflect the dominance Iowa had over Indiana. Iowa did not allow Indiana to take a single shot the entire game, meaning goalkeeper Grace McGuire had little to worry about in her first start.

Iowa kept on the pressure offensively as the team had 17 shots throughout the game and forced six saves from Indiana goalkeeper Shannon McNally.

After going scoreless for three quarters, it looked like the game was going to head to overtime as Indiana resisted the Iowa pressure. It was the sister duo of sophomore midfielder Sophie Stribos and junior midfielder/defender Lokke Stribos who connected for the Iowa goal. Lokke Stribos gave the assist off a corner before it was turned into a goal by Sophie Stribos with just three minutes left to play.

It was a team effort to get shots off, with junior defender Anthe Nijziel, Sophie Stribos, and senior forward Maddy Murphy getting three shots each.

“Our goal was to have a high level of possession and great ball movement using the short, simple pass,” Iowa head coach Lisa Celluci said in a release. “Our communication and organization on the defensive side of the ball was key. We found a way to get on the scoreboard. It feels great to get the win in our first game of the season.”

Against Penn State, the game was more contested.

The Nittany Lions gave the Hawkeyes a good fight, holding Iowa to six shots while getting five of their own off. After a shotless first quarter, both teams became more active in the second quarter and got shots off.

Just like in the first match of the weekend, Iowa found a way to win late. With just over eight minutes left to play, Ellie Holley came up big with an unassisted goal. After gaining possession, Holley made her way through the Penn State defense and slid the ball into the corner of the net to take the lead.

The game was not secure yet, as Penn State made one last push to find an equalizer. Grace McGuire came up big with an incredible save with just minutes on the clock, preserving Iowa’s second win of the season.

Six different Iowa players registered shots in the second game, continuing Iowa’s streak of having a balanced attack.

“I am so proud of this team,” Cellucci said. “We implemented the necessary changes on both sides of the ball and executed the game plan to a tee. Our team defense was what won this game. We will keep building. This is going to be an exciting team to watch.”

It is the first time Iowa has started a season 2-0 since 2013.

Iowa heads back to Virginia Beach for games against Rutgers and Penn State next weekend.

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