Iowa soccer downs Campbell in first round of NCAA tournament

Iowa beat Campbell, 1-0, Tuesday afternoon to advance to the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship’s round of 32.


Grace Smith

Iowa defender, Sara Wheaton, and Penn State midfielder, Payton Lineman, fight for the ball during the Iowa women’s soccer match v. Penn State at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Thursday, March 25, 2021. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 1-0.

Hunter Moeller, Sports Reporter

Following its 1-0 victory over Campbell in the NCAA tournament’s round of 64 Tuesday, Iowa soccer’s postseason run will continue for at least one more game.

Before they defeated the Camels, the Hawkeyes had never won an NCAA Tournament game.

Iowa jumped out to an early lead at Eakes Sports Complex in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and never looked back, as junior Sara Wheaton scored what proved to be the game-winning goal just four minutes into the contest.

Wheaton scored with some assistance from sophomore Samantha Cary — who delivered the ball to Wheaton via corner kick. Wheaton fielded Cary’s pass and took a shot at the left-hand side of the goal. Wheaton’s shot then ricocheted off a Campbell defender and into the back of the net.

“All of the run in front of me did their job and took the space near posts, and I had an open shot, so I just took a touch and hit it,” Wheaton said. “We’ve been working on set pieces a lot the past couple months, and we haven’t gotten the ball off the set piece yet, so that’s something that was critical for us.”

Campbell boasted a 19 shots per game average coming into Tuesday’s contest — good for third in the nation.

The Camels 8.67 shots-on-goal per game average ranks eighth in the nation.

After Wheaton’s quick burst, offensive opportunities proved scarce for the Hawkeyes and the Camels. On the game, Iowa outshot Campbell, 12-8.

Helping Iowa preserve its 1-0 lead throughout Tuesday’s contest was freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking — who racked up four saves on the day. In nine games this season, Enneking has amassed 48 saves.

Counting their win over the Camels, the Hawkeyes have now won four-straight contests in shutout fashion.

Iowa has also reigned victorious in its last five postseason games.

The Hawkeyes entered the postseason with a 2-8-1 regular season record. In its first six games of the season, Iowa did not score a single goal. Seven of Iowa’s 10 goals in 2020-21 have come during the postseason.

“Last weekend being the first team to win a Big Ten Championship, and then now being the first team to win an NCAA game, it feels unreal,” Wheaton said. “I’m so proud of the whole team for everything that we’ve accomplished and the records that we’re going to have forever.”

Head coach Dave DiIanni believes his Hawkeyes’ current run will set the tone for future Iowa soccer teams.

“We talked a lot about two weekends in a row trying to make history in our program,” DiIanni said. “We just talked about creating a foundation for others who are going to wear this jersey, and an expectation and a standard of what is expected of them at the University of Iowa and specifically in the soccer program. Just a shoutout to those that played at the University of Iowa and wore this jersey. We know they’re really proud, and we’re working really hard.”

With the Camels now behind them, the Hawkeyes will turn their attention to their matchup with third-seeded UCLA in the NCAA tournament’s round of 32.

The Bruins enter the tournament with a 12-1-2 record and a Pac-12 title to their name.

UCLA has an all-time record of 68-19-5 in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins have advanced to the round of 16 in seven of their last eight NCAA tournament appearances.

UCLA won the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship in 2013.

Freshman Reilyn Turner leads the 2020-21 Bruins in scoring with nine goals and four assists on the season.

By the time the Bruins face the Hawkeyes April 30, they’ll have had nearly two weeks off. UCLA played its most recent match on April 16.

Action between the Hawkeyes and Bruins will begin a 2 p.m. Friday and air on ESPN3.

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