Iowa soccer set for first round of NCAA tournament matchup with Campbell

Fresh off a Big Ten title, the Hawkeyes will kick off their NCAA championship run Tuesday against Big South champion Campbell.


Casey Stone

Iowa Midfielder Hailey Rydberg moves the ball away from Purdue Defender Julia Ware 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

For the second-straight season, Iowa soccer has qualified for the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship.

This year, the Hawkeyes will travel to Campbell’s territory at the Eakes Athletics Complex in Buies Creek, North Carolina, for their first NCAA tournament matchup.

Iowa is slated to take on Campbell at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The matchup will stream on ESPN3.

The Hawkeyes have appeared in the NCAA tournament on two other occasions.

Iowa fell to Notre Dame, 4-1, in 2013, and the Hawkeyes were most recently beaten, 1-0, by Kansas in 2019.

Only a handful of Hawkeyes on head coach Dave DiIanni’s roster have previous NCAA tournament experience.

Juniors Josie Durr, Samantha Tawharu, Sara Wheaton, and sophomores Samantha Cary and Gianna Gourley all started in Iowa’s 2019 NCAA tournament game against Kansas.

Juniors Hailey Rydberg, Skylar Alward, and Jenny Cape also saw the field in reserve roles during the Hawkeyes’ short-lived 2019 NCAA tournament run.

The Hawkeyes qualified for the 2021 NCAA tournament via an automatic bid they received after they won the Big Ten Championships April 18.

Had the Hawkeyes not won the Big Ten Championships, they may not have qualified for the NCAA tournament at all.

Iowa finished the regular season 2-8-1, and for their first six matches, the Hawkeyes didn’t score a single goal. In total, Iowa amassed just three goals during the regular season.

RELATED: Iowa soccer claims Big Ten Tournament title

The Hawkeyes then proceeded to rattle off four-straight wins over the likes of Illinois, Minnesota, No. 4 Penn State, and Wisconsin, scoring six goals in the process.

Iowa had lost to all four of the teams it defeated in the Big Ten tournament during the regular season.

Now, the Hawkeyes are hoping to carry the momentum they established during the Big Ten Championships into the NCAA tournament.

“I think, going into the tournament, we need to keep the same mindset that we’ve had going into tournament play,” Rydberg said. “Anything can happen. Obviously, Campbell’s going to be a good team. Any team we play in the NCAA Tournament is going to be a good team. We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep getting better, working hard, and going in with that aggressive mindset that we can do this.”

Campbell enters Tuesday’s matchup fresh off a Big South Conference Championship that earned it an automatic NCAA tournament bid. The Camels hadn’t previously won a league title since 1993.

Campbell has won six-straight matches ahead of its showdown with Iowa. In their last 26 games, the Camels have scored 26 goals.

Junior forward Jessica Donald leads the Camels with five goals on the season. Freshman midfielder Cazzi Norgren has played 901 minutes for Campbell this season — good for a team-high.

Tuesday’s matchup will serve as the first-ever between Iowa and Campbell. The Hawkeyes have never played a single Big South opponent.

The winner of the Hawkeyes and Camels’ contest will take on third-seeded UCLA in the tournament’s round of 16 on April 30.

The 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship will conclude May 17 with the national title game.

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