Iowa field hockey to finish regular season at Northwestern

No. 2 Iowa is looking for a win against No. 8 Northwestern to secure second place in the Big Ten.

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Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Midfielder Ellie Holley stares down Michigan State midfielder Ellie Wheatley during a field hockey game between Iowa and Michigan State at Grant Field on Friday, March 26, 2021. The Hawkeyes beat the Spartans 5-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter


As the Big Ten field hockey regular season comes to a close, No. 2 Iowa travels to No. 8 Northwestern for its last two matchups of the regular season.

The Wildcats are currently 4-3 in the Big Ten and a part of a five team race for second place in the Big Ten that will go down this weekend.

Michigan has already clinched the regular season crown, but the five teams behind them are all within a game of each other.

The Hawkeyes have acknowledged just how important the final regular season is for not only the standings, but the team’s confidence heading into the postseason.

“Getting a win on Thursday would really help,” senior midfielder Ellie Holley said. “Especially going into the Big Ten tournament we want to set ourselves up for the best start. To really build momentum for the last four weeks, I think it really starts with Thursday’s game.”

The Hawkeyes (10-2 overall, 5-2 in conference play) control their own destiny to finish in second place if they can manage to win Thursday, which is the one game in the series that will count toward the Big Ten standings. A loss could see Iowa drop down to fifth, which would make the road to the Big Ten Tournament championship standings even harder and a bid to the NCAA Tournament much more difficult.

Iowa is feeling good heading into this weekend’s game against Northwestern having had no games the past week, Iowa’s first break since the season started back in February.

“We were able to spread out our practices and go hard on certain days, knowing we would be off on the next one,” Cellucci said.

RELATED: No. 2 Iowa field hockey splits weekend series with Maryland

The team had some time to watch film and not have to worry about any opponents during practice this week, something which has not been possible for a while due to the busy schedule. The break was welcomed by many players and staff.

“It was good for everyone,” Holley said. “I know everyone got a lot of rest. It’s always good to have a reset, just working on different things and not always looking at who our opponent is. It was great to analyze how we could be better.”

This weekend’s matchup between the Hawkeyes and the Wildcats will see the Big Ten’s best defense go up against its second best offense. Iowa has kept its opposition at bay all season, allowing under a goal every other game.

The Hawkeyes have kept some of the best offense in the league scoreless all season, but Northwestern presents a threat going forward.

The Wildcats average just over 2.5 goals per game and have put 10 shots on target every game. Often not having to make a save in games, senior goalkeeper Grace McGuire could be called into action more than usual as Iowa’s backline gets tested.

With all this in mind, the Hawkeyes are looking to still go in and play their own game with confidence.

“We have to be really disciplined in our individual and team defense,” Cellucci said. “And we have to be able to control possession, so they don’t get a lot of time on the ball to create chances.”

Iowa will face Northwestern Thursday at 4 p.m. before playing Northwestern again Saturday at noon.

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