Iowa field hockey aims to end seven-year drought against Maryland

Iowa hasn’t defeated Maryland since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten Conference in 2014. The Hawkeyes are hoping to change that this weekend.


Iowa Midfielder Ellie Holley works past a defender during a field hockey game between Iowa and Michigan State at Grant Field on Friday, March 26, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans 5-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Despite all the success Iowa field hockey has enjoyed over the years, one team has always been a thorn in the Hawkeyes’ sides: Maryland.

Since Maryland joined the Big Ten Conference in 2014, the Hawkeyes have gone 0-7 against the Terrapins.

Maryland has won an outright or shared Big Ten regular-season title in five of its seven years in the league.

This weekend’s doubleheader will arguably present the Hawkeyes with their best chance to beat Maryland since 2014.

Iowa is currently the No. 2 team in the country. The Hawkeyes boast a 9-1 overall record, while No. 13 Maryland sits at 5-3.

“We have to play how we play and enjoy it,” senior midfielder Ellie Holley said. “Tomorrow’s a big test and it is going to be a big opportunity.”

The Terrapins are likely better than their record says they are. Maryland has picked up quality wins against Ohio State and Penn State. Two of the Terrapins losses came to No. 3 Northwestern. The Wildcats defeated the Terrapins, 1-2, in both matchups between the two teams.

“There’s a lot of similarities between them and us,” Hawkeye head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “They have mobile, physical defenders, but offensively is where they are really a threat. They have skill and speed in all three lines, are really savvy on the ball and are great finishers.

Iowa does appear to have the offensive firepower to keep up with Maryland. Against Michigan State, six different Hawkeyes scored a goal.

Esme Gibson, Ciara Smith, Alex Wesneski, and Makenna Maguire all scored their first goals of the season against the Spartans, while senior forward Maddy Murphy bumped her goal count up to five on the year.

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“It proved to us that we can score at will and that when we get good looks and take care of the details, we finish well,” Cellucci said.

Behind the recent offensive breakthrough has been Holley.

Holley currently leads the team with five assists on the season, two of which came in last weekend’s 5-0 drubbing of Michigan State. Holley has also scored twice on the season, which takes her 2020-21 points total on the season up to nine — good for second-best on the Hawkeyes’ roster.

The facilitator role is nothing new to Holley, as her offensive output has steadily increased with each passing season.

After posting just two assists in her freshman year, Holley worked her way up to three assists the next year and then exploded with 11 assists in her third year. The 11-assist tally was good for fourth-best in the Big Ten in 2019-20.
Despite her success, Holley isn’t concerned with individual statistics.

“At the end of the day, everyone works so hard for each other that it really doesn’t matter who gets the individual stats as long as we get the team stats,” Holley said.

On Friday, the Hawkeyes will take on Maryland at 4 p.m. Sunday’s game will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday’s game will air on the Big Ten Network.

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