Iowa field hockey goalie Grace McGuire holds down the fort

The fifth-year senior netminder has led the Hawkeyes to a 9-2 record, allowing only nine goals in 11 games.


Jeff Sigmund

Michigan forward Katie Anderson takes a shot at the goal as Iowa goalkeeper Grace McGuire moves to block during a field hockey game between No.1 Iowa and No. 2 Michigan on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines 2-1 in double overtime and a shootout.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

Iowa field hockey’s Grace McGuire has been a steady hand in the net since she earned the starting role during her junior season in 2020.

The St. Louis native enrolled at Iowa in January 2017 after graduating high school early. She missed the 2018 season with an ankle injury then saw limited minutes in 2019, but McGuire has been a mainstay for the Hawkeyes ever since.

In 2020, McGuire started all 18 games for the Hawkeyes, posting 35 saves and leading Iowa to eight shutouts.

McGuire was even better in 2021. She manned the net to the tune of 46 saves and second-team All-America honors for an Iowa squad that peaked at No. 1 in the national rankings and posted 11 shutouts — the most in the country.

McGuire has gotten off to a similarly hot start this season. Through 11 games, she has allowed only nine goals and recorded five shutouts.

Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci praised McGuire after the Hawkeyes opened the year on the road in North Carolina. The then-No. 5 Hawkeyes won the season-opener over No. 20 Wake Forest but dropped the back end of the road trip in overtime to No. 2 North Carolina, 3-2.

“Last weekend, those were two great teams, and Grace played out of her mind,” Cellucci said following Iowa’s victory over Boston University on Sept. 2.

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Cellucci, a Hawkeye goalkeeper from 1995-98 and the program’s all-time saves leader, said McGuire’s vocality on the back end may be her most valuable attribute for the No. 3 ranked Hawkeyes. This stat will change on Tuesday.

“She’s a gamer,” Cellucci said of McGuire. “First and foremost, her leadership and organization on the field … She doesn’t even have to play many balls because of how well she organizes our defense. That’s the key to a great goalkeeper.”

After highlighting McGuire’s importance from a leadership standpoint, Cellucci was quick to praise her talent between the posts as well.

“That was a world-class save today,” Cellucci said after the Hawkeyes’ 1-0 victory over Rutgers on Sunday afternoon. “That’s a very difficult save to make. Her save ability is unreal.”

The “world-class save” Cellucci referenced occurred just twenty minutes earlier, in the fourth quarter with Iowa up a score on the visiting Scarlet Knights.

A cluster of black and white jerseys were crowded in the circle, and with Rutgers looking to knot the game at one apiece and the ball close to crossing into her domain, McGuire booted it out of the way.

“It was on the line,” McGuire said. “I kicked it out and I said, ‘Thank you, God.’

“Don’t talk about that [in the article], though,” she added, jokingly.

Sunday’s example has been the norm for McGuire this season. McGuire’s teammates appreciate her stability in the goal, as it allows them to be more aggressive.

“It’s great to have [Grace in goal],” senior midfielder Sofie Stribos said. “It means I can attack. We know [she has] our back, and if you make a mistake, [she] can clean it up.”

As her illustrious career nears its end, McGuire said Iowa’s upcoming road trip will be a test before her final game at Grant Field.

The Hawkeyes travel to University Park, Pennsylvania, next weekend, kicking off a five-game road trip. They will return to Iowa City to celebrate Senior Day on Oct. 28 as they take on Michigan State.

“[I’ve] got to do a lot of laundry,” McGuire quipped. “A lot of laundry. We’ve got one last game at Grant Field, which is insane to think about, and kind of terrifying.”