Iowa field hockey returns to Virginia Beach for second-straight week of east coast action

After posting two shutouts in its opening weekend of play Feb. 27 and 28, the Hawkeyes aim to stay undefeated this weekend.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa defender Lokke Stribos passes the ball to defender Anthe Nijziel during an exhibition game against Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday, August 24, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 3-2.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Despite that, the Hawkeyes picked up a pair of 1-0 wins on the east coast.

“They were able to adjust rather quickly to our possession-based style of how we liked to play, and we didn’t skip a beat with our ball movement and how we built the ball up field,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said.

Defender Anthe Nijziel was huge in Iowa’s defensive success last weekend, playing the entirety of both the Hawkeyes’ games.

Goalkeeper Grace McGuire only had to make one save during the road trip.

“It’s really a hallmark of Iowa field hockey for years and years has been our defense,” Cellucci said. “We brought back almost our entire backline from last year, so I think moving forward that’s something we can count on.”

Last year, Iowa allowed just 1.23 goals per game, with most of the goals conceded to top ten opponents like North Carolina and Maryland.

If Iowa’s defense remains as stout this year as it was last year, the Hawkeyes will have a chance to reach the postseason yet again.

Historically, Iowa field hockey has reached the height of NCAA Division I Field Hockey, with one national championship to the program’s name.Success in the postseason, according to Cellucci, has almost become an Iowa field hockey tradition.

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“Our goals really don’t change much from year to year, we go about forming them and setting them in different ways and there’s usually a different process to achieving them,” she said. “Our goals are always to win a Big Ten Championship and Big Ten Tournament Championship, advance to the NCAA Tournament and we want to get to the Final Four.”

This weekend, the Hawkeyes aim to extend their two-game win streak to four as they face Rutgers and Penn State in Virginia Beach

On the season, Rutgers is already 2-0. The Scarlet Knights dominated Indiana, 3-0, before narrowly edging Ohio State, 2-1, in overtime in the second game of their opening weekend.

“They brought back a lot of their personnel from last year and are really skilled down the middle of the field,” Cellucci said. “They have the best goalkeeper in the league, so we’re going to have to be really sharp in our offensive third and really execute our set pieces and penalty corners.”

Iowa will be well-prepared for its second game of this weekend against Penn State. The Hawkeyes beat the Nittany Lions, 1-0, in the second game of their weekend doubleheader Feb. 28.

Iowa kicks off the weekend Friday at 10 a.m. against Rutgers, and then wraps up its time in Virginia Beach with an 11:45 a.m. rematch with Penn State. Both games will stream on Big Ten Network+.

The Hawkeyes’ home-opener at Grant Field in Iowa City is scheduled for March 12 against Michigan.

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