Iowa soccer set for season finale against Nebraska

The Hawkeyes will travel to Lincoln this weekend for their final game of the Big Ten regular season.


Casey Stone

Iowa Midfielder Hailey Rydberg runs the ball down the field during the Iowa Soccer senior day game against Purdue on Mar. 28, 2021 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Iowa defeated Purdue 1-0.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

Iowa soccer returns to the pitch this Saturday to close out its regular season in Lincoln against Nebraska at Hibner Stadium.

Iowa last clashed with Nebraska in October 2019. Iowa was victorious in that matchup, winning 1-0.

The Cornhuskers enter Saturday’s game with a 1-5-3 overall record — putting them just one spot behind the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference standings.

Nebraska’s lone win came against Purdue. Coincidentally, Purdue is one of the two teams Iowa has defeated this season.

In its history, Iowa soccer has a record of 2-10-1 against Nebraska. The Hawkeyes have defeated the Cornhuskers in each of their last two meetings, dating back to 2018.

“I think we all know it’s been a crazy season,” junior Hawkeye Hailey Rydberg said. “I think each game we’ve gotten better in different parts of the game. Obviously, against Purdue, we were able to get a goal early, and that was the first time all season, we were able to do that. Going into Nebraska, that’s a huge goal of ours to score early and play competitively for 90 minutes.”

During the early stages of Iowa’s 2020-21 season, the Hawkeyes struggled to score, failing to find the back of the net in each of their first six games.

Despite the early struggles, Iowa has found its groove of late.

The Hawkeyes have scored a goal in three of their last four matches. Sophomore Gianna Gourley, junior Samantha Tawharu, and junior Sara Wheaton have each scored one goal this season. Tawharu and Gourley’s goals were game-winners.

While the offense has struggled at times, Iowa’s defense has been impressive. The Hawkeyes have held their opponents to one or fewer goals in six of their 10 contests this year. Iowa has also held its opponents scoreless on three separate occasions.

One of the Hawkeyes’ best defensive bouts came against offensive powerhouse Penn State on March 25. Iowa held the Big Ten’s regular-season champion to one goal — a season-low for the Nittany Lions.

RELATED: Iowa soccer defeats Purdue, 1-0, on senior day

Freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking has played a large role in Iowa’s defensive success.

Enneking made her collegiate debut against Rutgers on March 18. She has played a total of 322.03 minutes, allowing just one goal. The Hilliard, Ohio, native has made 18 saves this season, boasting a .947 save percentage. Enneking has also registered two shutouts in 2020-21.

Enneking earned her first Big Ten weekly honor on March 22, as she was named Co-Freshman of the Week after her shutout performance against Maryland.

Enneking has since accumulated six saves in each of the Hawkeyes’ last two games.

The Hawkeyes attribute their recent success to their commitment to improvement throughout the season, even when things weren’t going well.

“I think [staying focused] stems from our culture,” Rydberg said. “It showed in practice even how much we wanted to get better, win, and improve as a team. I think it’s all about trust, trust in ourselves, each other, and in coaches, that we were going to progress. We just had to keep pushing for it.”

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