Iowa field hockey’s Nijziel, Cellucci claim Big Ten Conference’s top honors

Nijziel was named the Big Ten’s best defender and player Wednesday. Cellucci was dubbed the league’s top coach.

Iowa+defender+Anthe+Nijziel+passes+the+ball+during+the+second+quarter+of+a+field+hockey+game+against+Maryland+on+Sunday%2C+April+4%2C+2021+at+Grant+Field.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Terrapins%2C+3-0.+

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.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor


Iowa field hockey defender Anthe Nijziel was named both Big Ten Player of the Year and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season Wednesday morning.

Nijziel had previously received player and defensive player of the year honors from the Big Ten Conference in 2020.

Iowa field hockey head coach Lisa Cellucci also garnered league honors in 2021. The conference named her Big Ten Coach of the Year in unanimity Nov. 3.

Five other Hawkeyes earned league recognition too. Senior Maddy Murphy was named to the All-Big Ten first team. Goalkeeper Grace McGuire and defenders Lokke Stribos and Esme Gibson received All-Big Ten second-team honors. Midfielder Nikki Freeman was Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient.

Nijziel is the third player in Big Ten history to earn league player of the year honors twice in a row. The only other Hawkeye to win the Big Ten Player of the Year Award twice is Kristy Gleason, who did so in 1992-93.

Cellucci has won the Big Ten’s coach of the year award for the last three seasons. This year, she guided the Hawkeyes to a 16-1 regular season record. Iowa won its first 16 games of the year before it suffered a 2-1 loss to No. 5 Northwestern in the Big Ten’s regular season finale. In total, Iowa racked up nine regular season wins over ranked foes in 2021.

Despite their recent loss to the Wildcats, the Hawkeyes are still the nation’s best team, according to this week’s National Field Hockey Coaches Association Poll. Iowa was also good enough to earn the top seed in this year’s Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament.

Nijziel, Cellucci, and the Iowa field hockey team racked up an NCAA-best 11 shutouts this season. During an eight-game stretch in September, the Hawkeyes didn’t relinquish a single goal.

McGuire was a pivotal cog in Iowa’s defense all season long. The Missourian led the Big Ten in goals against average, allowing opponents to score just .52 times per game. Her 81.2 save percentage also topped the conference rankings in 2021.

McGuire allowed nine goals in 1,035 minutes of action, recording 39 saves.

Nijziel didn’t exclusively help McGuire and the Hawkeye defense this season. Nijziel was occasionally the engine that made Iowa’s offense work this year, racking up seven goals and 10 assists. Three of Nijziel’s goals were game-winners.

Nijziel and the Hawkeyes will return to action Nov. 5 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Iowa’s opponent has yet to be determined, as Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament Quarterfinal action hasn’t concluded.

Iowa received a bye in the conference tournament’s quarterfinal round because the Hawkeyes are the top seed in the bracket.

Iowa will play the winner of Thursday’s matchup between No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Northwestern. The Hawkeyes’ first game of the tournament will begin Friday at 1 p.m. Iowa’s tourney-opening contest will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

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