Iowa soccer advances to 2021 Big Ten Championship Game

A 1-0 upset win over Penn State in the Big Ten Championship semifinals vaulted the Hawkeyes into Sunday’s Big Ten Championship Game.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Defender Samantha Cary clears a ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Minnesota on March 14, 2021 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes 1-0.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

Iowa soccer stunned top-seeded Penn State in the semifinal round of the 2021 Big Ten Tournament Thursday afternoon at Jeffrey Field in State College, Pennsylvania.

The Hawkeyes’ lone goal — that came in the 47th minute of the game — was good enough to help Iowa pick up a 1-0 win over the Nittany Lions by the time the contest’s final whistle was blown.

The goal was produced by junior Hailey Rydberg and freshman Meike Ingles. Just two minutes into the second half, Rydberg found Ingles on the right-hand side of the goal during a fast break. Ingles then booted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net for a score.

Ingles has scored all three of her career goals this postseason. Every goal Ingles has scored has proven to be a game-winning goal for the Hawkeyes.

After their 47th-minute goal, the Hawkeyes didn’t coast to a victory. In the 61st minute of the contest, sophomore defender Samantha Cary received her second yellow card of the match.

So, the Hawkeyes were forced to play the remainder of their Big Ten Tournament semifinal game with just 10 players on the field compared to Penn State’s 11.

Down a defender, the Hawkeyes had to redirect 17 Nittany Lion shots-on-goal in the second half of Thursday’s game.

Freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking played a large role in the Hawkeyes’ defensive effort Thursday, racking up a career-high nine saves.

The Hawkeyes’ backline also supplied Enneking with the support she needed to succeed, securing two saves.

Perhaps the most crucial save of the game came from junior Olivia Hellweg, who put herself between the ball and the goal after the Penn State offense pushed past Enneking.

Hellweg denied the Nittany Lions what would’ve been a game-tying goal.

After a 2-8-1 regular season that saw the Hawkeyes score just three goals, Iowa has now won three-straight games in the Big Ten Tournament, amassing five goals in the process.

“They’re bought in,” Hawkeye head coach Dave DiIanni said in a release Thursday. “We talked about being bought into the process and investing even more and believing that your input affects your output. A lot of it was what you saw today, you know, the defensive grit, the slide tackling, the block shots, and the willingness to work for each other.”

With the win, Iowa improves its overall season record to 5-8-1.

The Hawkeyes will face 7-3-3 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game Sunday at 11 a.m. on the Big Ten Network.

Wisconsin defeated Rutgers, 2-1, to advance to Sunday’s title game.

Iowa previously matched up against Wisconsin in its first game of the season. The Hawkeyes lost that matchup with the Badgers, 1-0.

Like Iowa, Wisconsin also enters Sunday’s championship game on a bit of a hot streak, as the Badgers haven’t lost a match since March 21.

While the Hawkeyes certainly suffered through their fair share of difficulties at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, they have started to hit their stride at just the right time, according to head coach Dave DiIanni.

“There are a lot of reasons we weren’t prepared to be successful early in the year, and some of it was that we did lose 14 seniors,” DiIanni said in a release. “We’re doing the necessary things to be successful, specifically in the Big Ten with no nonconference schedule.”