Iowa field hockey picks up No. 3 ranking heading into Ohio State

Iowa will head to Columbus, Ohio, looking to back up its strong ranking.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci celebrates a win during a field hockey match between Iowa and California on Friday, September 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bears, 4-2.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

After a strong start to the season, Iowa field hockey was picked third in the country and received three first place votes in the first National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll of the season.

The poll gets the opinion of field hockey coaches across the country to determine the rankings but has no bearing on how the NCAA picks at-large teams for the postseason tournament.

The Hawkeyes spent all of last season in the top 10 of the poll, but never reached the lofty third place position they currently sit in. For the Hawkeyes, it is a sign of respect from opponents more than anything else.

“But there’s not too much merit on it right now,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “The team was excited, and we feel like we have a long way to go to continue to get better so, that’s even more exciting.

Iowa was ranked No. 2 in the NCAA RPI behind Liberty.

Iowa was the highest ranked Big Ten team in the first coaches poll. Northwestern (4), Penn State (7), Rutgers (9), Maryland (10) and Michigan (11) were all ranked in the first poll, showcasing the strength of the Big Ten once again this season.

Iowa will have a chance to back up its high ranking this weekend, as the Hawkeyes travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State is still win-less after two weekends of play but have put up a good fight in every game. The Buckeyes took Rutgers to overtime before conceding late on and came close a second time around against the Scarlet Knights.

Iowa is still trying to focus on improving and focusing on themselves rather than worrying about the opposition as junior defender Anthe Nijziel said.

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“I think every team in the Big Ten is a good competitor,” Nijziel said. “But we try to focus on ourselves. We just want to play our game and not focus too much on our opponents.”

The team is focusing on finishing in the final third and creating solid chances after last weekend’s games against Michigan. After not creating a lot of chances the first few weeks of play, Iowa exploded last weekend.

The Hawkeyes outshot the Wolverines, 30-9, on the weekend, with over half those shots coming on target. But Iowa only managed to get one goal from open play, something which Iowa is hoping to improve upon this weekend.

“Our midfield play could probably be a little shorter,” Cellucci said. “But it’s going to be about how we build the ball from inside the 50 going forward and penalty corners.”

The defense has continued to be reliable for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has conceded just one goal in five games this season. That has for a large part been because of the solid play of the back line allowing very few shots, but senior goalkeeper Grace McGuire has stepped up when called upon.

Iowa will begin its doubleheader against Ohio State on Friday at 3 p.m. and again on Sunday at 11 a.m. Both games will be streamed on BTN+.

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