Iowa field hockey set for home-opener with Michigan

The only undefeated teams in the Big Ten Conference will square off this weekend at Grant field in Iowa City.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa midfielder Ellie Holley runs after the ball during a field hockey game between Iowa and Duke at Grant Field on Sunday, September 15, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Blue Devils, 2-1 after two overtime periods.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Nearly one year ago today, Iowa field hockey met as a team one last time before life at the University of Iowa changed completely.

On March 11, 2020, the UI sent its students home and moved to an online-only model of instruction.

The UI’s original plan was to continue virtual instruction through April 3. The pause of in-person classes, however, continued through the end of the spring and summer semesters.

When the Hawkeyes returned to campus for the fall 2020 semester, the Big Ten Conference postponed all its fall sports to the spring.

Now, nearly one year removed from the UI’s initial pause of in-person instruction, Iowa field hockey will play its first game at Grant Field in Iowa City since Oct. 26, 2019.

The Hawkeyes’ last home game at Grant Field saw them defeat Northwestern, 2-1.

One thing that has not changed since 2019 is Iowa field hockey’s standard of excellence, as the Hawkeyes are off to a 4-0 start in 2020-21.

This weekend, Iowa welcomes Michigan to Iowa City. The Wolverines and Hawkeyes are the Big Ten’s only undefeated teams through two weeks of play.

“We’re so excited to be back on Grant Field because it’s an awesome surface to play on, and we get a chance to defend our home turf,” head coach Lisa Celluci said. “They’ve been so excited since we got back Sunday night. Tuesday, we had practice, and they came to Grant Field with a lot of energy and were ready to go.”

The last time Iowa and Michigan met back in 2019, the Hawkeyes narrowly edged the Wolverines, 1-0, thanks to a goal from junior midfielder Lokke Stribos.

This season, Michigan had two games postponed during its opening weekend of play, meaning the Wolverines have still only played one game in 2020-21.

RELATED: Iowa field hockey off to best start since 2013

According to sophomore Sophie Stribos, the Hawkeyes still can’t look past Michigan, even if the Wolverines have only played once this year.

“They know how to play together and also stay composed and they have two really good pivot players,” Stribos said.

Michigan head coach Marcia Pankratz was a Hawkeye herself. Pankratz played field hockey at Iowa from 1982 to 1985 and built an incredible legacy. She sits third on the list of all-time goal-scorers at Iowa. She was also Iowa’s female athlete of the year twice and a Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient.

Pankratz went on to become a two-time member of the United States Olympic Field Hockey team.

“[Pankratz] knows us well and Iowa City well, and our games against Michigan are always tightly-contested,” Celluci said.

This season, Iowa will play doubleheaders each weekend against Big Ten opposition. The first game of the weekend will count toward the Big Ten standings, while the second will be considered by the NCAA when postseason tournament brackets are created and at-large bids are distributed.

“No matter the score of the first game, we always tackle the second game as if nothing happened the previous game,” junior midfielder Lokke Stribos said.

Iowa’s first game against Michigan starts on Friday at 3 p.m. Both squads will meet again on Sunday at noon to finish up the weekend doubleheader.