Iowa field hockey stomps Saint Louis

The Hawkeyes won, 6-0, against the Billikens on Sunday afternoon.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa player Alex Wesneski waits for the ball after scoring a goal during a field hockey game between Iowa and Saint Louis at Grant Field in Iowa City on Sunday, Sept.4, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Billikens, 6-0. Wesneski scored two goals and played 26 minutes.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa field hockey team jumped out to an early lead in its 6-0 shutout win over Saint Louis University on Sunday afternoon.

The Hawkeyes netted three goals in the first quarter alone. Sophomore forward Annika Herbine opened up the scoring onslaught six minutes into the game, and two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Anthe Nijziel scored off a penalty corner seven minutes later.

Junior forward Alex Wesneski continued her hot streak against the Billikens. She recorded her first goal of the game with 27 seconds left in the first quarter.

Ciara Smith netted another goal two minutes into the second to send the Hawkeyes into the break with a four point advantage.

After halftime, redshirt freshman keeper Mia Magnotta made her collegiate debut in goal, replacing starter Grace McGuire. The Forty-fort, Pennsylvania, native recorded the Hawkeyes’ lone save.

Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said the decision to start Magnotta in the second half was to boost her confidence and develop depth behind second team All-American Grace McGuire.

“Mia had an unbelievable spring semester of training, and she’s a fantastic goalkeeper,” Cellucci said. “We redshirted her last year, and we knew going into the season we were going to have two awesome options at goalkeeper, and we want to continue to get her experience because she’s going to be the future here for us when Grace graduates.

“For any other team in the country she would be the starting goalkeeper,” Cellucci said.

After the break, Smith and Wesneski each recorded a second goal. Smith scored two minutes before the end of the third, and Wesneski scored in the fourth quarter for her sixth goal in four games.

Magnotta said Wesneski’s recent hot streak has been the norm since the duo won back-to-back high school state championships together at Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania.

“She just gets better practice by practice, but she’s always been super aggressive and super athletic,” Magnotta said. “She’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, she’s just amazing.”

Wesneski returned the praise when asked about Magnotta’s debut.

“She’s been working really hard,” Wesneski said. “I’m really happy to see her out there, and I’m really proud of her. It’s just really good for the Hawks to have her.”

The Hawkeyes dominated the stat sheet and the scoreboard. The Iowa offense tallied 25 shots, with 15 shots on goal. By comparison, the Billikens mustered up four total shots, with just one on goal.

The Hawkeyes tallied their second shutout of the season. In 2021, Iowa had an NCAA-leading 11 shutouts. 

“I don’t know what I’m going to do when Lokke [Stribos] and Anthe [Nijziel] graduate,” Cellucci said. “It’s been five years of just unbelievable, brick wall defense, and they handle pressure better than anybody in the country. They did a great job, they stayed very poised, repositioned well, and they really did handle Saint Louis. I’m so thankful they’re on our team.”

The Hawkeyes will return to action next weekend as they continue their five-game home stand. Iowa will take on Providence at 2 p.m. on Friday, and Massachusetts at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be held at Grant Field.