Hawkeye soccer officially returns to Iowa City

For the first time since 2019, Iowa soccer will play a competitive match at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa midfielder Hailey Rydberg runs after the ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Illinois on Sept. 26, 2019 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 3-1.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

For the first time since 2019, Iowa soccer will take the field for a competitive match at the Iowa Soccer Complex.

While the Hawkeyes have played two games that are technically penciled in as home games this season, they have yet to play a game in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes’ first two home games were played in Bettendorf, Iowa, at TBK Bank Sports Complex because the facility boasts an indoor soccer field that shields competing teams from the Midwest’s harsh winter conditions.

“I think it’s going to be super nice, having that home-field advantage,” junior Hailey Rydberg said. “We were still getting in a bus and driving an hour [to Bettendorf] to a game, and we didn’t really have that home feel to it. I’m hoping back on our home field we will have that atmosphere and energy to keep the spirits high.”

Iowa will welcome Minnesota to Iowa City today for a match at noon.

The last meeting between the two teams was back in October 2019, and the Hawkeyes walked away from the game with a 2-1 victory.

Iowa enters today’s match fresh off a 2-0 loss to Northwestern in Bettendorf on March 8.

The Hawkeyes have struggled offensively so far this season. In fact, Iowa is riding a five-match streak with zero goals, as the Hawkeyes have yet to find the back of the net this season.

Despite that, Iowa has still had its share of scoring opportunities. The Hawkeyes have outshot three of their first five opponents without outscoring them.

Rydberg has attempted 11 shots this season — the most of any Hawkeye. Freshmen Meike Ingles and Maggie Johnston both trail Rydberg with seven and five shots, respectively.

RELATED: Iowa soccer falls against Northwestern

Iowa’s inability to score early this season may be the result of an inexperienced roster. Eight Hawkeyes on head coach Dave DiIanni’s team are freshman.

Last season, Iowa was one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten, boasting 12 seniors on its roster. This season, Diane Senkowski is the only senior on the Hawkeyes’ roster.

Five Hawkeye freshmen have seen the pitch so far this season. Ingles, Johnston, Aleisha Ganief, Rielee Fetty, and Jalyn Mosley. Eighteen of DiIanni’s 28 players are underclassmen.

Iowa is most experienced at the defender position this season, as starters Sara Wheaton and sophomore Samantha Cary both started all of Iowa’s games in 2019.

Shoring up Iowa’s defensive efforts with Cary and Wheaton is sophomore goalkeeper Monica Wilhelm, who has played in all the Hawkeyes’ contests this season.

Wilhelm posted her first career shutout against Michigan on March 4, racking up a career-high nine saves.

So far, Wheaton is the only Hawkeye that has played the entirety of all five of Iowa’s games this season. Ganief, Cary, Fetty, Ingles, Johnston, Rydberg, Senkowski, redshirt junior Josie Durr, and junior Samantha Tawharu have all played at least one complete, 90-minute game.

Although the Hawkeyes have yet to pick up a victory this season, DiIanni wants his team to keep focusing on improving each and every week.

“As a group, we need to continue to grow at a faster pace so that we can see the results and the fruits of our labor,” DiIanni said. “We’re working really hard, and it’s a process. It’s a result-driven occupation we’re in right now, so I want to see our players benefit from their efforts.”