No. 1 Iowa field hockey travels to Michigan for two matchups

The Hawkeyes will take on Big Ten foe Michigan State along with nonconference opponent Central Michigan this weekend.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Maddy Murphy celebrates a goal during a field hockey game between Iowa and Central Michigan at Grant Field on Friday, September 6, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Chippewas, 11-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Iowa field hockey faced one of the most difficult two-game stretches on its 2021-22 schedule last weekend. The Hawkeyes traveled to the east coast to take on then-No. 6 Rutgers and then-No. 7 Maryland. The Hawkeyes returned to Iowa City with a pair of 2-1 wins over the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins.

Iowa has gotten used to winning games via blowout this season, as the Hawkeyes have won six of their 12 total games by three goals or more. So, winning by a narrow margin for two-straight games proved to be a bit of a unique experience for Iowa.

“It was a different scenario for us since we were tied in one of the games,” fifth-year senior forward Ellie Holley said. “So, it is a different mentality we had to experience.”

Fifth-year senior forward Maddy Murphy helped get Iowa over the hump against both Maryland and Rutgers, scoring a goal per game. Her performances helped her earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.

“Those goals came in such timely moments when we needed it,” Holley said. “I think they calmed everyone down, especially in the Maryland game because it was a 50-50 game.”

With their east coast trip behind them, the Hawkeyes will now journey to the Great Lakes State for their next two games. Iowa will take on Michigan State Friday and Central Michigan Sunday.

Undefeated Michigan is not one of the teams Iowa will face this weekend. The Hawkeyes overtook the Wolverines at the top of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association rankings Sept. 28.

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Since Sept. 28, the Hawkeyes have asserted themselves as the nation’s best team. In the Oct. 5 edition of the NFHCA Poll, Iowa received 39 first-place votes compared to Michigan’s six. Iowa has already defeated three top five teams this season.

The Hawkeyes will get their chance to play the Wolverines at Grant Field in Iowa City Oct. 15. With that matchup looming, the Hawkeyes are determined to stay focused on the opponents they’re playing this weekend before they even think about their game plan for the Wolverines.

“We cannot overlook either of these games because they are both going to provide challenges,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “Michigan State is dangerous on penalty corners and has strength on the ball, so we have to take care of this and worry about Michigan later.”

Iowa’s matchups with Michigan State and Central Michigan will serve as the Hawkeyes’ last two regular season road matchups of the year.

The Spartans enter Friday’s contest with the Hawkeyes at 6-2 overall. Michigan State went 2-14 in 2020-21.

Central Michigan is 3-7 through 10 contests this season. The Hawkeyes downed the Chippewas, 11-0, when the two squads last met in 2019-20.

Friday’s Iowa-Michigan State game will begin at 3 p.m. and stream live on BTN+. The Hawkeyes’ matchup with the Chippewas Sunday will start at 11 a.m.

The 2021 Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament will be held Nov. 4-7 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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