Iowa field hockey eliminated from NCAA tournament

Iowa lost to Northwestern, 1-0, in the NCAA tournament’s round of eight on Sunday afternoon at Grant Field in Iowa City.

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Gabby Drees

Northwestern midfielder Maddie Zimmer and Iowa forward Annika Herbine race for the ball during a field hockey game between Iowa and Northwestern at Grant Field in Iowa City on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Northwestern won 1-0, eliminating Iowa in the tournament. Earlier in the season, Northwestern won against Iowa. Zimmer had one shot on goal. (Gabby Drees/The Daily Iowan)

Ben Palya, Sports Editor


Iowa field hockey’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight matchup against Northwestern looked set to go into overtime at Grant Field on Sunday as the Hawkeyes and Wildcats were both scoreless near the end of the fourth quarter.

Then, with one minute left in the matchup, Northwestern midfielder Lauren Wadas stepped up with the difference-maker. The Wildcat took a chance from just outside Iowa’s circle, and slotted the ball past Hawkeye goalkeeper Grace McGuire.

The Hawkeyes sent everyone forward after the late goal, but could not find the back of the net in the final minute.

Iowa field hockey started the 2021 fall season 16-0 before losing its final regular season game to the Wildcats. Northwestern bested the Hawkeyes once again in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“The reality is, it is very disappointing for the season we had,” Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said.  “To not advance to the Final Four is not the result we wanted.”

The Wildcat defense stayed locked in the entire game, only allowing Iowa five shots. Overall, Northwestern outshot Iowa, 13-5. 

Both the Hawkeyes and the Wildcats had penalty corner chances that they could not convert — Northwestern drew four chances, while Iowa had three.

The Hawkeyes had four seniors return for a fifth year in 2021: Forwards Emily Deuell and Nikki Freeman and midfielders Ellie Holley and Nikki Freeman.

“They’re crushed right now, especially those that are graduating and have spent a lot of time here,” Cellucci said. “They’re in tears and a little bit of shock, and the fact we could not hold them off another minute to go into overtime, there’s a lot of disappointment.”

Cellucci also said she thought Iowa and Northwestern should’ve been a Final Four matchup, instead of the teams meeting in the Elite Eight. 

“Both these teams have been in the top five/four all year,” Northwestern head coach Tracey Fuchs said. “Obviously happy, but I so respect Lisa and the program that they have here at Iowa that I would have loved to have gone to the Final Four with her.”

BIG PICTURE

Iowa started the 2021 season 16-0. The Hawkeyes went 1-3 in their last four games. Two of Iowa’s three losses came against Northwestern.

Iowa lost its last game of the regular season, its first game of the Big Ten tournament, and its second game of the NCAA tournament. Iowa’s lone win in its last four games of the 2021 season came against American University in the NCAA championships.

LACK OF FIREPOWER

Iowa only fired five shots against Northwestern. The Wildcats held the Hawkeyes scoreless. Northwestern’s goalie, Annabel Skubisz, needed to make just two saves on the afternoon.

“We have the ability to break them down, if we would have worked together and communicated,” Iowa midfielder Esme Gibson said of the Hawkeyes’ offense.

McGUIRE’S LAST HURRAH

Goalie Grace McGuire made five saves in her last game as a Hawkeye Saturday. The senior from St. Louis, Missouri, helped give Iowa a chance to win the low-scoring game.

While her effort wasn’t enough to propel the Hawkeyes to victory, she still stopped five of the Wildcats’ six shots on goal.

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