Iowa soccer claims Big Ten Tournament title

Iowa soccer defeated Wisconsin, 1-0, Sunday afternoon to clinch the 2021 Big Ten Tournament title.


Grace Smith

Iowa forward Meike Ingles chest bumps the ball during the Iowa women’s soccer match versus Penn State at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Thursday, March 25, 2021. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes, 1-0.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

Iowa soccer’s improbable run in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament reached new heights Sunday afternoon, as the Hawkeyes shut out Wisconsin, 1-0, to claim this year’s conference title at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pennsylvania.

Before Sunday, Iowa soccer had never won a Big Ten Championship.

Iowa’s lone goal in Sunday’s game came from junior Jenny Cape in the 64th minute, and it proved to be enough to push the Hawkeyes past the Badgers.

Hawkeye junior Samantha Tawharu and freshman Meike Inlges set up Cape’s goal.

Tawharu received the ball just past midfield on Wisconsin’s side of the pitch. Ingles then patiently positioned herself between two Wisconsin defenders. As soon as Ingles received the ball, she found a streaking Cape on the left side of the field.

Cape rifled the ball straight over the head of Wisconsin’s two-time Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Jordyn Bloomer for the score.

The goal was Cape’s first of the 2020-21 season.

Ingles’ assist helped her earn the 2021 Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player award.

Ingles has scored all three of her career goals during the Big Tournament. Each of her goals have proven to be game-winners for the Hawkeyes, and her assist Sunday set up a tournament-clinching score.

RELATED: Iowa soccer advances to 2021 Big Ten Championship Game

While Iowa’s offense did prove to the difference-maker Sunday, the Hawkeyes’ defense ultimately won Iowa the game.

In total, Wisconsin took 20-shots-on-goal Sunday compared to Iowa’s nine.

Despite the shot disparity, Iowa’s defense held firm, as the Hawkeyes’ freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking amassed five saves Sunday on her way to being the named the 2021 Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Enneking — who took over at goalkeeper for Iowa midway through the 2021 regular season — has made six or more saves in four of her eight starts this year.

The Hawkeyes’ defense allowed just one goal throughout the Big Ten Tournament, shutting out three of the four teams Iowa has faced this postseason.

Wisconsin had previously defeated Iowa, 1-0, in its season-opener on Feb. 20.

During the regular season, the Hawkeyes accumulated two wins in 11 games, finishing with an overall record of 2-8-1. Iowa scored just three goals prior to the postseason.

Since then, the Hawkeyes have won four straight games, putting six balls in the back of the net.

Iowa lost to each of the four teams it defeated in the Big Ten Tournament during the regular season.

“I’m incredibly proud of this group,” DiIanni said in a release. “They have been so committed the entire year, and we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder to play hard, and it’s more internal than anything else. We weren’t pleased with how we started the year off, and we have a lot of things to work on, but this group fights.”

With a Big Ten title now in its back pocket, Iowa will travel to North Carolina, to compete in the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament.

The first round of the NCAA tournament begins April 27 and 28.