Iowa field hockey feels ‘connected,’ returns seven starters for 2022

The Hawkeyes, who are ranked No. 5 in the 2022 NFHCA preseason poll, will bring back the two-time Defensive Player and Player of the Year.


Casey Stone

Iowa midfielder/defender Lokke Stribos waves to the fans while being introduced as part of the starting lineup before the start of the Iowa Field Hockey Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Wake Forest on Aug. 27, 2021 at Grant Field. Iowa defeated Wake Forest 5-3.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The 2022 Iowa field hockey team feels more connected than it did a year ago.

The Hawkeyes only have 21 players on the 2022 squad, compared to 27 players in 2021.

“One thing that’s different this year is the connection between us players,” Sofie Stribos said. “Our group is a little smaller this year, so we get more time together so some of the social bonds are stronger than they were last year.”

Iowa had a successful 2021 regular season as the Hawkeyes peaked at No. 1 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll and won 16 straight games to start the season — the second-longest streak in program history.

Although Iowa became the regular season Big Ten champions and head coach Lisa Cellucci won Big Ten Coach of the Year for the third straight year in 2022, the Hawkeyes struggled in the postseason.

Iowa lost its final game of the regular season and didn’t win a game in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes then hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Iowa City and lost to eventual champion Northwestern in the second round.

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But the Hawkeyes will return its core, with seven starters from 2021 coming back to Iowa. Stribos is returning for her senior year, along with her older sister, fifth year and All-Big Ten second team midfielder Lokke Stribos. 

Another key returner is fifth year defender Anthe Nijziel, the two-time reigning Big Ten Defensive Player and Player of the Year. She led the Hawkeyes to 11 shutouts in 2021, which led the NCAA. 

Nijziel and Lokke Stribos, along with senior Esme Gibson, have been named to the Big Ten preseason honors list. 

Iowa also added two fifth year transfers, Olivia Frazier and Laura Drees, from Richmond University and University Hildesheim (Germany), respectively.

The Hawkeyes’ focus this offseason has been prioritizing the team’s social connections on and off the field, Sofie Stribos said.

“The team’s focus has been to grow every practice and make each other better every day,” she said. “We’re trying to grow as a group.”

Lokke Stribos said the team can easily connect, as every player comes from out of state. As field hockey is more popular on the East Coast of the U.S. and in Europe, everyone is far from home. 

“It’s different in Iowa [compared to Belgium],” she said. “No one is from Iowa, everyone comes from far away, so we only have each other here. We’re our own family, which is what makes this team so special.”

Big Ten Conference teams dominated the 2022 preseason NFHCA poll. Northwestern, the reigning NCAA champion, holds the top spot, while Michigan comes in at No. 3 and Maryland is No. 4. Iowa is fifth in the poll to start the season.

Iowa will kick off the 2022 season with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, taking on No. 20 Wake Forest on Friday and No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday.