Iowa field hockey set for weekend doubleheader with Michigan State

The No. 2 Hawkeyes will welcome the 1-6 Spartans to Grant Field in Iowa City for two games this weekend.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Forward Maddy Murphy attempts to block a pass from Michigan’s Clare Brush 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

Iowa field hockey is up to its highest ranking in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll since 2008, claiming the No. 2 spot on the list this week. Iowa shares No. 2 position with Louisville and trails defending national champion and current No. 1 North Carolina.

The Hawkeyes’ high ranking comes after another solid weekend of play against Ohio State. Iowa swept its doubleheader with the Buckeyes last week thanks to a three-goal effort from senior forward Maddy Murphy.

In both their matchups with the Buckeyes, the Hawkeyes emerged victorious via 2-1 final score

Iowa is currently 7-1 on the season — good for first place in the Big Ten Conference.

Murphy’s impressive showing against the Buckeyes will not only serve her well, but Hawkeyes’ entire roster.

“It’s a huge confidence boost for her but also for the team,” Hawkeye head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “It gave a sense of relief for her and the team, knowing we can rely on Maddy in numerous situations and she really came through in the clutch.”

In both games, Iowa got up 2-0 before conceding a late goal. While the Hawkeyes would’ve liked to hold the Buckeyes scoreless in both games, they do understand that Ohio State pulled its goalkeeper at the end of both matches to apply extra pressure.

Despite the added intensity Ohio State brought at the end of both games, the Hawkeyes remained level-headed.

“We had to problem-solve to find a way to win,” Cellucci said. “They put us under a lot of pressure and we handled it with great poise. It was great to see that we were able to handle that pressure and finish the game.”

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This weekend, Iowa returns home to face 1-6 Michigan State. The Spartans’ only win of the season came against Indiana, 2-0.

Michigan State has struggled defensively as of late, conceding 15 goals in their last four games. On two occasions this season, the Spartans have conceded five goals in a single game — once against Rutgers and a second time versus Penn State.

When the Hawkeyes played the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights this season, they shut both of them out.

After last weekend’s offensive improvements, this week’s doubleheader with the Spartans presents the Hawkeyes with an opportunity to explode, offensively.

“They play a really physical brand of hockey,” Cellucci said. “They’re tough defenders and they tackle hard. We feel like if we play to our game and our strengths we hopefully have the opportunity to put goals away.”

Iowa will need to remain cautious defensively, as the Spartans have managed to score six goals in seven games.

As always, the first game of the weekend will count toward the Big Ten standings, while the second game of the weekend will be considered by the NCAA for national tournament seeding.

Iowa and Michigan State will play Friday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

For the first time this season, fans will be allowed to attend both games at 50 percent capacity.