Iowa field hockey splits doubleheader with Michigan

Although the Hawkeyes dominated both games, they couldn’t come away with two wins on the weekend.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Defender Anthe Ninjziel slaps the ball to a teammate during a field hockey game between Iowa and Michigan at Grant Field on Friday, March 12, 2021. The Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes 1-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

It was a dominant weekend for Iowa field hockey on the field, but the Hawkeyes could only manage a split against a solid Michigan side in the doubleheader this weekend.

Iowa outshot Michigan by a wide margin in both games but could only muster one goal on the weekend in its second game.

Iowa dominated the first game of the weekend, out-shooting the Wolverines 13 to two with seven of their shots landing on target. But it was Michigan who got the late goal, as the Wolverine’s Sarah Pyrtek scored the game’s only goal off a deflection with just over six minutes left in the match.

Iowa would get several chances after including a penalty corner with just 10 seconds left, but the Hawkeyes could not find the back of the net.

“We felt like we played the better game of hockey and dominated in every area but the final third,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We dominated statistically. We just didn’t execute and that’s kind of been the bane in our side all season.”

After an energetic first quarter, the game became more stretched in the second quarter. Iowa bombarded Michigan with five shots in the second quarter, but it was Michigan who had the best chance.

The Wolverines made a break down the field before junior defender Anthe Niezgel fouled the opposition in the circle, meaning Michigan earned a penalty stroke.

Goalkeeper Grace McGuire, who had only had to face one shot all season at that point stepped up to make a tremendous save to deny the Wolverines, but the shot was ordered to be retaken. That was not a problem for McGuire, who got down low to her right to make another great stop.

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“She’s a gamer,” Cellucci said. “And she did a fantastic job back to back there playing two different saves, and it allowed us to get some momentum back there.”

The momentum shifted after the saves, and Iowa managed to create some chances to no avail. Iowa came out in the second half with the same momentum the team ended the first half on but were unable to capitalize off its chances.

The second game would go the distance as Iowa had its first ever shootout in Cellucci’s 21 years on staff. The Hawkeyes came out and bombarded Michigan for much of the first half. Senior midfielder Ellie Holley found the back of the cage with just five minutes left in the first half for her second goal of the season, but Michigan drew level just before the half with a goal against the run of play.

As both teams became fatigued, less chances were created in the second half and both sides played smarter. With both teams allowed just seven players on the field during overtime, the game became stretched. Although both teams had chances to win in the second overtime, neither converted and the game went to a shootout.

“It’s exhausting, Holley said.” You just have to keep possession and you don’t want to lose the ball. You get put on for a couple minutes and you got to give your heart out.”

Tensions were high in the shootout, as both goalkeepers battled to make important saves. As the last shooter in the shootout, junior midfielder Lokke Stribos had a mountain of pressure to win the game.

She stepped up and delivered, lifting the ball over the Michigan goalkeeper to clinch the win for the Hawkeyes as Iowa won the shootout, 2-1.

The first game of the weekend counted toward the Big Ten standings, while the second counts toward NCAA Tournament considerations. With the split, Iowa moves to 5-1 on the season ahead of next weekend’s trip to Ohio State.