Iowa field hockey sweeps Michigan State

The No. 2 Hawkeyes dominated both games, including a 5-0 performance on Friday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa players celebrate and stretch during a field hockey game between Iowa and Michigan State at Grant Field on Friday, March 28, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans 2-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

As fans returned to the stands at Grant Field for the first time in over a year, they were treated to a show by the Iowa field hockey team over the weekend.

Iowa field hockey has been solid defensively all season long, but at times struggled to break down opposition offensively. After some encouraging games against Ohio State last weekend, Iowa put it all together during Friday’s game during a 5-0 blowout of Michigan State.

The Hawkeyes dominated from start to finish, scoring twice in the opening three minutes before going on another tear late in the third quarter to score two more goals.

“What was so great about today is the numerous different ways in which we scored, which makes a team very dangerous,” Iowa head field hockey coach Lisa Cellucci said.

Senior forward Maddy Murphy was once again in the goals during Friday’s game, scoring twice in the win to take her goal tally of the season up to five. Meanwhile, Ciara Smith, Alex Wesneski, and Esme Gibson all grabbed their first goals of the season as the Hawkeyes won handily.

The defense did its part once again, holding Michigan State to no shots or penalty corners on the whole game while helping start attacks from the back with precise passing.

Senior midfielder Ellie Holley was instrumental to Iowa’s attack as well, notching another two assists during the game on Friday. That takes her assist total to five on the season, proving how important her vision and passing have been all season.

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“Ellie Holley is an incredible field hockey player,” Murphy said. “She is so unselfish and is breaking lines every single game. Her vision is incredible, she sees everyone and makes our job at striker very easy when you have a player like that distributing the ball.”

Michigan State made some adjustments for Sunday’s game and played some stingier defense, but Iowa still found a way to break Michigan State down and win, 2-0. Junior midfielder Makenna Maguire scored her first goal of the season late in the first period, with the assist coming from Wesneski.

The assist was Wesneski’s second of the season, as she continues to make a big impact as a freshman.

“It means a lot that I get the opportunity to be on the field with the teammates I have and the coaches have a lot of faith in me to put me on the field for that time,” Wesneski said.

After the goal, Iowa coasted and created several more chances that went saved. Holley’s amazing run through the Spartans defense forced a great save from Michigan State goalkeeper Jardell Monique.

Although Michigan State managed to hang around, it was never really in the game. Iowa sustained pressure for most of the game and were rewarded early in the fourth quarter.

Sofie Stribos nailed a shot setup by junior defender Anthe Nijziel from the penalty corner into the top of the goal to secure the win for the Hawkeyes. The Spartans got two shots late in the game, but none were on target.

“We feel we have a team that can dominate in most games because we have skill in every line and we play a possession style base of hockey,” Cellucci said. “We feel we have that ability and to do it game after game has been fantastic. Today was a little bit tough, obviously Michigan State made some tweaks from Friday, but we still controlled the momentum and tempo of the game.”

With the wins, Iowa moves to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play, good for first place in the Big Ten.