No. 3 Iowa field hockey looking to build off strong start to season

After starting 2-0 for the second consecutive season, Hawkeye field hockey is heading to Boston for two nonconference games.


Casey Stone

Iowa forward/midfielder Maddy Murphy runs down the field with the ball during the Iowa Field Hockey Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Wake Forest on Aug. 27, 2021 at Grant Field. Iowa defeated Wake Forest 5-3.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

No. 3 Iowa field hockey will hit the road this weekend to head to Boston as the Hawkeyes continue their nonconference slate.

With two ranked victories in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Hawkeyes started the 2021 field hockey season 2-0 for the second consecutive year.

Iowa took on No. 11 Wake Forest in the first match of the weekend, and the high-scoring affair saw the Hawkeyes come out on top, 5-3.

Two days later, the Hawkeyes snapped a 13-year losing streak against reigning national champion No. 1 North Carolina, 3-1.

RELATED: No. 3 Iowa field hockey topples No. 1 North Carolina at home

“Since I was a freshman, it has always been a goal to beat UNC,” fifth-year senior forward Maddy Murphy said. “To do it at Grant Field in front of an amazing home crowd it was phenomenal.”

After an impressive opening weekend for the Hawkeyes, Murphy was awarded several regional and national accolades. Murphy scored two goals and notched two assists against top-ranked teams.

On Monday, Murphy was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. On Wednesday, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association also named Murphy the Division I National Offensive Player of the Week.

The NFHCA award was the first national weekly honor of her career, but Murphy credits it to her team.

“Those assists and goals were all team-based, and I was lucky to be at the end of some of them,” Murphy said. “I’m very grateful for the honor, but the team win was more important this weekend.”

Now, the Hawkeyes need to stay focused ahead of a long trip to the East Coast.

“The message at practice has been that BU and UNH are two quality opponents with serious threats,”  head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We have to get at it what we need to be better at, primarily our transition to defense.”

The Hawkeyes will first take on New Hampshire in a neutral site at Boston’s New Balance Field. The Wildcats split their opening weekend with a 1-0 win over Ohio and 3-0 loss to No. 5 Louisville.

The last time the two sides met in 2018, Iowa managed a 2-0 win.

On Sunday, Iowa will match up against Boston University. The Terriers also split their opening weekend, beating Monmouth 2-1 before dropping a game to Providence by the same score.

“BU has a lot of offensive threats,” Cellucci said. “So, we’re going to have to really lock down our team defense.”

With conference matches on the horizon for the Hawkeyes, Iowa will use the weekend to build toward the impending Big Ten slate.

“It’s going to be time for different people to be playing, and also gaining that confidence,” senior midfielder Ellie Holley said.

Iowa’s first match against New Hampshire is on Saturday at 2 p.m., before a quick turnaround to play Boston University on Sunday at noon. Sunday’s match can be streamed on ESPN+.