Iowa soccer set for two-game homestand against Penn State and Purdue

The Hawkeyes face off against the Nittany Lions Thursday and the Boilermakers Sunday.


Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa forward Gianna Gourley fights for possession during Iowa’s match against Illinois State on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Red Birds 4-3.

Hunter Moeller , Sports Reporter

After securing its first win of the season at Maryland last Sunday, Iowa soccer is back in Iowa City this week with a matchup against Penn State Thursday at 4 p.m.

Iowa will continue the homestand through the weekend to face off against Purdue Saturday — senior night — at 1 p.m.

The last time Iowa played these two teams in 2019, Iowa fell to both. The Hawkeyes lost to Purdue, 1-0, and fell to Penn State, 2-0, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Penn State, ranked No. 9 in the nation, sits atop the Big Ten standings alongside Rutgers with a 6-1-1 record. Purdue is fifth in the Big Ten with a record of 4-3-1.

Iowa, 1-6-1, is second from the bottom in the Big Ten. Maryland holds the last spot.

For Iowa, the upcoming matchups are about improving its play to a steady level.

“For us, it’s about progress and developing a consistent style of play, consistent level of performance, and a consistent level of competitiveness,” Iowa head soccer coach Dave DiIanni said. “It’s about being consistent in the Big Ten. We’ve been transparent about that. That’s what we strive for. That’s our goal. That can be difficult if you’re not getting the result that your used to.”

Outshooting its opponents hasn’t been something out of the ordinary for Iowa in 2021. Iowa has outshot its competition in five of its eight matches.

While shooting hasn’t been a problem, getting the ball in the back of the net has been a struggle. Iowa has only accumulated two goals on the season, with both coming in the last two matches.

Recently, Iowa’s goalkeeper received some recognition.

Freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week Monday.

She got her first start in the contest against Maryland. Enneking came up with three second-half saves on the way to her first shutout. Her collegiate debut was in the March 18 contest against Rutgers, where she accumulated three saves in 45 minutes during the second half.

RELATED: Iowa soccer notches first win of 2020-21 season against Maryland

Redshirt sophomore Monica Wilhelm started in net for the Hawkeyes until Enneking replaced her.

A slew of Hawkeyes have played the entirety of multiple matches. Junior Sara Wheaton has played the full time in every contest except for one because of injury. Senior Diane Senkowski, sophomore Sam Cary, sophomore Samantha Tawharu, freshman Aleisha Ganief, and freshman Rielee Fetty have all played multiple complete games during the spring campaign.

While the season has been a tough one for the Hawkeyes, they have resilience.

“They haven’t been tied to results, which I have a deep appreciation of with this group of women,” DiIanni said. “A lot of time, you will see a team decide they don’t want to get better anymore and they don’t want to compete anymore. This team hasn’t shown any of those qualities. They’ve bought into the process, and they understand they’re close, but they have a lot of work to do.”

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