Smith adds depth to Iowa field hockey’s roster

Senior forward Ciara Smith is one of the Hawkeyes’ leading scorers, and she isn’t even a starter.


Casey Stone

Iowa forward Ciara Smith runs the ball down the field during the Iowa Field Hockey game against Ohio University on Sep. 10, 2021 at Grant Field. Iowa defeated Ohio 8-0. (Casey Stone/The Daily Iowan)

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Iowa field hockey’s offense has scored 47 goals in just 12 games this season, putting the ball in the net nearly four times per contest.

Senior forward Ciara Smith has boosted Iowa’s offensive production all season long. As of Sept. 26, Smith was the Hawkeyes’ second-leading scorer, and she’s not even a starter.

“Ciara’s playing phenomenally, finding the goal every game, and is doing everything we’re asking of her,” fifth-year senior Maddy Murphy said. “It’s great to see her confidence grow every game and see her be so successful.”

Smith didn’t start a single game as a freshman at Iowa. She has since drawn 11 career starts — none of which have come this year.

Despite her lack of starting experience, Smith has still played many games in the Black and Gold, as she is one of the first players Hawkeye head coach Lisa Cellucci brings off the bench on game days. In total, Smith has participated in a total of 58 games as a Hawkeye.

Smith has played in all of Iowa’s games this year, scoring seven goals for the 12-0 team. The Virginian also seems to have a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net at opportune times for Iowa.

Against then-No.11 Wake Forest, Smith scored a clutch goal with about five minutes remaining in the game to give Iowa a two-score advantage over the Demon Deacons.

Versus Penn State last weekend, Smith scored off a penalty corner in the fourth quarter to give Iowa a 4-0 lead and dash any comeback aspirations the Nittany Lions may have had.

“She’s lightning quick and can run all day while being a great spark off the bench,” Cellucci said. “She throws a different look for a lot of teams and her ability to score some really timely goals has been huge and given us some great momentum shifts.”

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When Smith is in the game, a new element is added to the Hawkeyes’ attack. Her superb speed and athleticism forces opposing teams to adjust their defensive strategy.

“It’s helpful to have some speed on my side,” Smith said. “I definitely have my parents to thank for that. Our training and [assistant coach Ashley Renteria] in strength and conditioning works really hard with us.”

Smith is also an incredibly efficient scorer. Her .412 shooting percentage is the second highest on the Hawkeyes’ active roster. Before this season, Smith had never posted a shooting percentage higher than .222.

Smith is also an occasional distributor, racking up four assists on her career.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Michigan this weekend for their next two games. Iowa will take on Michigan State at 3 p.m. Saturday and Central Michigan at 11 a.m. Sunday. Saturday’s Iowa-Michigan State matchup will stream live on BTN+

Iowa will play a third-straight team from the Great Lake State Oct. 15 at 2 p.m., as the Hawkeyes welcome No. 2 Michigan to Grant Field in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines are both undefeated so far this season.