No. 2 Iowa field hockey to kick off Big Ten play against Indiana

The 6-0 Hawkeyes will open conference competition against Indiana in Bloomington this weekend.


Casey Stone

Iowa midfielder/forward Ellie Holley attempts to score a goal 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

Hawkeye field hockey took care of business to begin the 2021 fall season, as Iowa went 6-0 through its nonconference slate, outscoring its opponents, 33-4.

Through four weeks of the season, Iowa sits at No. 2 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll — behind only Big Ten foe Michigan at the No. 1 spot.

The strong start is encouraging to the Hawkeyes as they prepare to open Big Ten play this Friday.

“Being 6-0, we’re going to have a target on our backs,” fifth-year midfielder Ellie Holley said. “We’re ready and excited for Big Ten play to start and this weekend is going to be a great first contest.”

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Iowa has posted four consecutive shutouts coming into the weekend, surrendering just seven shots in the stretch. The Hawkeyes have also recorded goals from 13 different players, with Holley topping the leaderboard with five — a career-high season total through six games.

The Hawkeyes start Big Ten play on the road in Bloomington, Indiana, against the Hoosiers this weekend. Iowa has won its past three Big Ten openers. Although Indiana is the only conference team not ranked in the NFCHA Top 25, the Hawkeyes are still preparing for a tough test with the Hoosiers.

When Iowa and Indiana met last season, the Hawkeyes capitalized off a last-minute penalty corner from midfielder Sofie Stribos to secure the win, 1-0.

The Hawkeyes are expecting a similar resilient and hard-to-break-down Indiana team again.

“They’re an improved side and added some talented players to the mix,” Hawkeye associate head coach Michael Boal said. “They make teams play hard, and they’re good at taking away space and opportunities.”

Indiana field hockey went 1-14 overall last season, 0-12 in the conference. Now, the Hoosiers are 4-2 to begin the 2021 fall season.

Iowa’s matchup against the Hoosiers Friday will also serve as the Hawkeyes’ first away match with fans since the 2019 season. But Iowa plans to tune out the noise.

“Every time we step over the line, we put everything else aside and get on with business,” fifth-year midfielder Maddy Murphy said. “It’s one of our strengths, being able to focus on the most important thing in the moment.”

After their matchup against Indiana, the Hawkeyes will get a day’s rest before taking on No. 5 Louisville Sunday.

The Cardinals are 6-0 on the season, boasting strong wins over Princeton and Liberty — both of which are in the NFHCA top 15.

“The primary focus this weekend is Indiana and starting off in the Big Ten in the right way,” Boal said. “Hopefully, we get momentum from Friday and carry it into a competitive game on Sunday against Louisville.”

Louisville has won the past five meetings with the Hawkeyes and lead the series 8-4 overall.

Friday’s match against Indiana starts at 2 p.m. at the IU Field Hockey Complex and will air on BTN+. The Hawkeyes’ match against the Cardinals at Trager Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, begins at 1 p.m. and will be aired on Louisville’s Regional Sports Network.