Elle Otto proves to be key transfer for Iowa soccer

Otto has led the Hawkeyes with four assists on the year and is Iowa’s second-leading point scorer with 10.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa forward Ellie Otto battles with Northern Illinois defender Kylie Hermeyer during a soccer game between Iowa and Northern Illinois at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 4-2.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

Elle Otto has burst onto the scene in her first season on the Iowa soccer team.

The sophomore, who transferred from Mississippi State in the spring, has led Iowa in assists with four and is the second-leading point scorer with 10.

The forward, from Grandville, Michigan, has played in 15 of Iowa’s 16 games and made 14 starts. 

“It’s been really awesome,” Otto said. “Everyone was super welcoming right away. So it was super great to have everyone’s support on the team and it’s just been a great season so far.”

Otto transferred to Iowa in the middle of the spring after starting in just one game and making 15 appearances in her freshman year with the Bulldogs. 

“It was just not a good fit for me,” Otto said of Mississippi State. “Too far from home. There’s a lot of great people there, though. I wouldn’t take it back ever. I learned a lot there and learned a lot about myself.”

Otto said she had considered transferring to a few different schools including Xavier, Toledo, and Michigan State. But when she came to visit Iowa and talked to assistant coach Blair Quinn, it felt different.

The city atmosphere, along with the level of play, Otto said, made the Hawkeyes stand out.

Otto said the coaching staff helped a lot with her transition to Iowa, as head coach Dave DiIanni would regularly reach out to her and make sure she was gelling with the team on and off the field.

“He first started everything off with FaceTime calls,” Otto said. “So I was instantly like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome. He wants to know who I am and everything and that’s a great way to do it.’ But as soon as I came here, he was always contacting me and making sure I was okay [during] the summer.”

Because Iowa is close to her home, the sophomore said she has been able to see her family more since becoming a Hawkeye, with her parents coming to both home and away games.

On top of having family close by, Otto said living with teammates Kenzie Roling and Miah Schueller has also helped her adjust to life as a Hawkeye.

“They obviously were here for a year before me, and they know the ropes and everything,” Otto said.

The sophomore added that Roling, who has been out for much of the season with an injury, has been a huge supporter.

Since coming to Iowa, Otto has had to adjust on the field, too.

While the sophomore played in a winger role at Mississippi State — and with her club team, Midwest United — she has been a striker at Iowa.

Otto’s experience as a winger, however, has shone through as a Hawkeye, as she has assisted on a team-leading four goals this year, two of which have come on passes from the wing.

In Iowa’s most recent game, against Nebraska on Oct. 16, Otto was a constant offensive threat. She earned a penalty kick in the first half that led to the Hawkeyes’ first goal of the match. Then, in the second half, she assisted a goal from Hailey Rydberg with a pass from the left wing. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 4-0. 

DiIanni said Otto’s understanding of her position, along with physicality and strength beyond her stature, has made his team better.

“She’s a person who assimilates easily with everyone on the team and [is] always smiling with a positive attitude towards life,” DiIanni said in a text message. “She brings a level of energy and effort to every day of training that has set a standard for teammates to follow.”