No. 2 Iowa field hockey set for home matchups with Ohio and Saint Louis

The Hawkeyes will welcome Ohio and Saint Louis to Grant Field in Iowa City this weekend.

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Hannah Kinson

Iowa midfielder Esme Gibson runs down the field with the ball during the second quarter of a field hockey game against Maryland on Friday, April 2, 2021 at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Terrapins, 1-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter


Iowa field hockey checked in at No. 2 in this week’s National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, marking the second time in as many seasons the Hawkeyes have risen to No. 2 in the NFHCA rankings.

Iowa received a whopping nine first-place votes in the Sept. 7 poll, trailing only Michigan’s 25 first-place votes.

Iowa was one of six Big Ten Conference teams included in the NFHCA top 10 this week. The Hawkeyes were joined in the top 10 by No. 1 Michigan, No. 5 Northwestern, No. 7 Maryland, No. 8 Rutgers, and No. 9 Penn State.

Iowa will begin Big Ten play with a matchup against Indiana in Bloomington Sept. 17.

Before that, however, the Hawkeyes will take on two more nonconference opponents this weekend at Grant Field in Iowa City: Ohio University and Saint Louis University.

“We’re expecting [Ohio and Saint Louis] to be very physical, and they’re going to want to come and beat us on our home turf,” Hawkeye midfielder Esme Gibson said. “Going in as No. 2 in the country, we have a lot to live up to.”

Last weekend, Iowa scored seven goals in two games against New Hampshire and Boston, respectively. In 120 minutes of game action against the Wildcats and Terriers, the Hawkeyes didn’t surrender a single goal.

Nine different Hawkeyes have already scored at least once this season. In four games, the Hawkeyes have posted a .246 shooting percentage — nearly doubling the .124 shooting percentage they finished the 2020-21 season with.

RELATED: Iowa field hockey finds offensive chemistry

While Iowa’s offense has been solid throughout nonconference play, the Hawkeyes still feel like they have some work to do defensively before they start playing Big Ten opponents.

“It’s going to be so close at the top [of the Big Ten], so we need to focus on the basics and have a stable structure and stable communication,” Gibson said.

Saint Louis enters its match with Iowa this weekend with an 0-4 overall record. The Billikens have already lost to one Big Ten team this season: Michigan State. Before its most recent game against UC Davis, Saint Louis had not scored a single goal in 2021.

Ohio’s current win-loss record is 1-4. The Bobcats lost to No. 6 Louisville, 6-0, Aug. 27 and fell, 2-0, to Michigan State Sept. 5.

Though matches against Ohio and Saint Louis may not present the same challenges that Big Ten Conference games do, Hawkeye head coach Lisa Cellucci and her team are still looking for ways to improve on the field this weekend.

“We’re looking to have some different strategies throughout each quarter as we go forward this weekend,” Celluci said.

Iowa’s first game of the weekend will come Friday against Ohio at 3 p.m. The Hawkeyes will then take on the Billikens Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will stream live on BTN+.

Iowa’s last nonconference game of the 2021 season will come against Louisville Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. The match will be held on the Cardinals’ home turf in Kentucky.

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