Iowa soccer prepared for Big Ten semifinal match against Penn State

The Hawkeyes take on the Nittany Lions in Pennsylvania Thursday at 4 p.m.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defender Sara Wheaton passes the ball during a women’s soccer match between Iowa and Maryland at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 13, 2019. The Hawkeyes shut out the Terrapins, 4-0.

Hunter Moeller , Sports Reporter

Iowa soccer will compete for a trip to the Big Ten championship game this week with a semifinal matchup against top-seeded Penn State Thursday at 4 p.m. The match will be played at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pennsylvania, and will be televised on BTN.

The Hawkeyes, currently 4-8-1, made it to the semifinals after surviving Big Ten Regional Weekend. Iowa defeated Illinois, 2-1, April 8, and Minnesota, 2-0, April 11.

Penn State ended its regular season with a Big Ten best 9-1-1 record before defeating Indiana at Big Ten Regional Weekend.

In the last matchup against the Nittany Lions March 25, the Hawkeyes fell, 1-0. That matchup is Penn State’s lowest-scoring game all season.

Penn State leads the Big Ten in goals, assists, shots, and shots on goal.

Historically, Iowa has struggled in this matchup. Penn State currently leads the all-time record against Iowa with a stunning 26-2-0 record. Both of Iowa’s victories came in the 2013 season. The Hawkeyes also haven’t scored the Nittany Lions in over five years, dating back to 2015. They have also never won in University Park.

Iowa will focus on the little things going into the Penn State matchup.

“It’s focusing on minor details in order to be ready instead of big sweeping changes,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “I really liked how we defended and pressed Illinois. At the end of the day, we played two really good teams and only gave up one goal. We got to get healthy, but I like how we’re defending right now. At the end of the day, we’re starting to score some goals and capitalize on our chances.”

The two programs have played five times in the Big Ten Tournament all-time. The most recent matchup coming in 2019, where Iowa fell, 2-0, to Penn State in the quarterfinals. Iowa defeated Penn State, 1-0, in 2013 in the Big Ten semifinals, leading the Hawkeyes to their first ever trip to the Big Ten championship game.

RELATED: Iowa soccer defeats Minnesota, 2-0, to advance to Big Ten Tournament

After starting the season with a six-game scoring drought, which included their last matchup against Penn State, Iowa has been firing on all cylinders. In their previous two postseason games, the Hawkeyes have scored more goals than they did in the regular season.

Five different Hawkeyes have found the back of the net this season. Wheaton, redshirt junior Josie Durr, and sophomore Gianna Gourley have all scored one. Junior Samantha Tawharu and freshman Meike Ingles have both scored two.

Ingles has left her mark on the postseason so far. Each of her two goals have been game-winners.

Freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking has been stellar this season in net. Enneking has given up three goals in 594:14 minutes. The Hilliard, Ohio, native has held opponents to one score or a shutout three times each this season, all matches she’s started. Enneking has a conference-best .912 save percentage this season. She was announced as a unanimous selection for the Big Ten All-Freshman Team Wednesday.

As a team, the Hawkeyes are finding their groove.

“It’s really been about the process,” junior defender Sara Wheaton said. “Every week is about finding one more thing we’re already good at and perfecting it. I think we’re now kind of growing, and we’re getting it all together, and we’re playing well with each other. We’ve also found a new sense of heart and desire to play.”

The winner of Thursday’s matchup will move on to the Big Ten championship game April 18 to face off against either Rutgers or Wisconsin.

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