No. 1 Iowa field hockey drops first game of season

The Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome their slow start to Northwestern, falling 2-1 in the final game of the regular season.


Casey Stone

Iowa forward Ciara Smith and Ohio State back Olivia Zettervall try to gain possession of the ball during the field hockey game between Iowa and Ohio State at Grant Field on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Iowa defeated Ohio State 3-0.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

No. 1 Iowa field hockey fell just short of an undefeated regular season, falling to No. 6 Northwestern, 2-1, at Grant Field on Friday.

The Hawkeyes will now enter the postseason with a 16-1 overall and 7-1 Big Ten record.

Iowa had a 13-day break from action heading into the matchup against the Wildcats, and the Hawkeyes suffered from a slow start. Northwestern capitalized with a first quarter goal from Wildcat Alia Marshall off a penalty corner.

Northwestern continued to play stout defense against the Hawkeyes, as Iowa couldn’t convert on six penalty corners.

“They played great defense against us,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said postgame. “I think the plays we called were on, we just unfortunately didn’t get a deflection.  We need to be able to tip in front of the goalkeeper and we couldn’t get that touch on the ball. That’s the name of the game: they converted, and we didn’t.”  

Iowa tied up the game at one in the 53rd minute, as senior forward Ciara Smith found the back of the net off a pass from fifth-year senior midfielder Maddy Murphy.

But Northwestern responded with three minutes left in the match, converting a penalty corner to hand the Hawkeyes their first loss.

“We just didn’t play well in the first and second quarter,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “They took it to us, and we needed to be a lot stronger in our tackles, ride the tackles and really move the ball. We didn’t until the third quarter.”


There are no more undefeated teams left in Division I collegiate field hockey, as the Hawkeyes dropped their first match of the season.

Iowa still clinched its first outright Big Ten regular season championship since 1999, and the Hawkeyes are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.


The big difference between the Hawkeyes and Wildcats on Friday afternoon was the clinical nature of Northwestern, especially on penalty corners.

Northwestern had just two penalty corners throughout the match, and converted on both. Meanwhile, Iowa clinched six penalty corners but could not put any of them away.

“Credit to Northwestern, their penalty corner attack is phenomenal,” Murphy said. “And ours is usually phenomenal, but today we just weren’t able to convert.”


Smith shined for Iowa in the loss, putting in another energetic display up front. Her goal came from a diving lunge in front of the net, giving her seven goals on the season — second on the Hawkeyes.

“She’s phenomenal, and is really dedicated to scoring,” Murphy said. “It set us up well to step up in the second half.”


The Hawkeyes will travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, next week for the Big Ten Tournament.

Iowa has a first round bye, and will play in the semifinals on Friday.