Iowa soccer defeats Michigan State, advances to Big Ten Tournament semifinals

Forward Alyssa Walker scored the game’s sole goal in the 69th minute to send the fifth-seeded Hawkeyes over the fourth-seeded Spartans.

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Casey Stone

Iowa forward Alyssa Walker goes to kick the ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Michigan State at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Michigan State defeated Iowa 2-1.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter


Michigan State defender Samantha White was dribbling the ball at the Spartans’ own end when Iowa forward Alyssa Walker saw a chance to snatch the ball away.

When the two players met, the ball landed on Walker’s right foot, and it immediately traveled toward the Spartan goal. Walker then found herself in the penalty area, with Spartan goalkeeper Lauren Kozal lurking right in front of her.

The graduate transfer fired a shot, which crossed the goal line on the right side during the 69th minute. Walker gave the Iowa soccer team a 1-0 lead that the Hawkeyes never surrendered in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal match in East Lansing against the No. 4-seeded Spartans.

With the victory, the No. 5 Hawkeyes advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season.

At the end of the full 90 minutes, the box score suggested the programs played evenly. Each team had 17 shots with seven on goal. Kozal and Iowa goalkeeper Macy Enneking both recorded six saves.

The Hawkeye victory avenges a regular season defeat to the Spartans on Oct. 3 in Iowa City, when the Black and Gold struck first, but allowed two goals in the second half.

“I am elated for our team with today’s result,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said in a release.  “Credit to Michigan State, who has had a fantastic season. They put us under a lot of pressure in the first half and we were fortunate to escape 0-0. Our team, however, was undaunted at halftime, adjusted to the changes we were going to make and executed well to finish the game. They competed and executed at the highest level when their best was needed. We look forward to keeping our team together for one more week.”

BIG PICTURE

The Hawkeyes, who need to win the Big Ten tournament to earn an automatic bid in the NCAA championship, are still in contention to become conference tournament champions for the second straight season.

The win marked the Hawkeyes’ 12th of the season and the seventh time this fall that Iowa shut out an opponent.

LIMITED SUBSTITUTES

Iowa only used three substitutes — defender/midfielder Natalie Massa, forward/midfielder Kenzie Roling, and forward Samantha Tawharu — during the game. The Hawkeyes have called at least four players off the bench in all their other games this season.

Seven Hawkeyes played the entire game: Enneking, midfielder Hailey Rydberg, defender Riley Whitaker, midfielder Rielee Fetty, defender Sam Cary, defender Sara Wheaton, and midfielder Addie Bundy.

UP NEXT

 The Hawkeyes will travel to New Jersey for a match against No. 1 seed Rutgers on Thursday. The two programs previously met Oct. 10 on Rutgers campus, and the Scarlet Knights won, 1-0.

The Scarlet Knights went undefeated in Big Ten play this season to secure the regular season conference title, and only lost two overall matches.

In the last United Soccer Coaches Poll on Oct. 26, Rutgers was ranked No. 6.

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