No. 1 Iowa field hockey looking to finish undefeated regular season

The Hawkeyes are 16-0 with one regular season remaining against No. 6 Northwestern on Friday.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa defender Anthe Nijziel passes the ball during the second quarter of a field hockey game against Maryland on Sunday, April 4, 2021 at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 3-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

No. 1 Hawkeye field hockey is closing in on the postseason, as Iowa clinched the Big Ten regular season championship with a current 16-0 record.

But before the Hawkeyes turn their attention to the conference tournament next week, Iowa has one regular season matchup remaining against No. 6 Northwestern.

Iowa played multiple games a week for the past two months, but took a 12-day break between its last matchup against Ohio State and Friday’s match against Northwestern.

“I think we all were tired, so it was good for rest but also good for growth,” fifth-year senior midfielder Ellie Holley said. “When we attack the weekends it’s often about how the other team plays, so it’s been good working on ourselves.”

The Hawkeyes got the chance to do some team bonding at a haunted house as well, taking off some stress before the grueling postseason.

But in order to not lose momentum, Iowa still simulated an intrasquad match over its extended break.

No. 6 Northwestern is coming into the match with a 12-4 overall record — 3-3 in Big Ten play. The Wildcats dropped three of four games against top-10 conference opponents but bounced back with three consecutive victories.

Northwestern is powered by its high-powered offense, which averages 3.76 goals per game — second-best in the nation.

Northwestern forward Bente Beckers is fourth in the country in scoring, averaging 1.14 goals per game.

The Wildcats’ four losses each ended in 2-1 defeats, with the loss at then-No. 2 Michigan ending in double overtime.

In spring 2021, Northwestern bested Iowa twice in the regular season. The Hawkeyes finally beat the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament, 3-1, to advance to the Final Four

“They’re always a big rival and have a lot of great skill players,” senior Anthe Nijziel said. “But I think we are more of a team.”

Friday’s match also acts as the Hawkeyes’ senior day, and Iowa will honor seven seniors: goalkeeper Grace McGuire, forwards MaKenna Maguire and Ciara Smith, midfielders Lokke Stribos, Leah Zellner, and Megan Conroy, and defender Anthe Nijziel have completed four years with the Iowa field hockey program.

Fifth-year senior forwards Ellie Holley, Maddy Murphy, and Emily Deuell, along with midfielder Nikki Freeman, will also be recognized.

“The 11 have been doing a fantastic job all season long,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “The athletes who are walking for senior day are special people, unbelievable students and fantastic field hockey players.”

RELATED: No. 1 Iowa field hockey creating special season

The Hawkeyes will face off against the Wildcats at 2 p.m. at Grant Field. The matchup will be televised on BTN.

Iowa has clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which will start on Nov. 4 in Piscataway, New Jersey with the quarterfinal matches. Semifinals will begin on Nov. 5, while the championship game is scheduled for noon on Nov. 7.

The NCAA Tournament will begin on Nov. 12 at regional sites. The Final Four and Championship Game will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Nov. 19 and 21.


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