Iowa field hockey ready for postseason play

The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes will face off against fourth-seeded Michigan on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.


Gabby Drees

Iowa midfielder Lokke Stribos fights for the ball during a field hockey game between Iowa and Michigan State at Grant Field in Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 1-0.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa field hockey team completed its regular season schedule on Oct. 28 and enters the postseason with an 11-6 overall record.

The No. 10 Hawkeyes are 4-4 in conference play after losing three of their last four matchups against Big Ten teams. Two of those defeats were back-to-back scoreless affairs for the Iowa offense against No. 6 Michigan.

Now, to open postseason play, the Hawkeyes will take on the Wolverines for the third time in the past month.

Iowa drew Michigan in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, and the showdown between the fifth-seeded Hawkeyes and fourth-seeded Wolverines is set on Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. in Columbus, Ohio.

Despite its lack of success against Michigan this year, Iowa is confident in its chances to pull off an upset. Prior to the bracket’s release, Iowa fifth-year senior Anthe Nijziel said her team isn’t afraid of anyone in the conference.

“Every team in the Big Ten is really good,” Nijziel said. “Whoever we play, we will be ready.”

After a hot start to the year, the Hawkeyes’ regular season was a mixed bag overall.

Iowa began the year with a road trip down south, where they captured a win over Wake Forest and suffered an overtime loss to then-No. 2 North Carolina.

After their loss to the Tar Heels, the Hawkeyes went on an offensive tear, recording seven straight victories — including an upset win over then-No. 1 Northwestern — and averaged 4.3 goals per game over that span.

The offensive outburst was enhanced by stellar performances from forwards Annika Herbine and Alex Wesneski.

The pair has tallied 23 and 22 points this year, respectively. Herbine leads Iowa in total points, and Wesneski tops the roster with 11 goals.

Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said the emergence of Herbine and Wesneski as reliable goal scorers was vital early in the season.

“We’re really excited to see [them] take off,” Cellucci said. “It’s been an awesome welcome to our offense because, to be honest, we weren’t entirely sure where the goals were going to come from this season.”

However, the Iowa offense stumbled at the end of the regular season.

The Hawkeyes suffered through a scoring drought for two straight weeks, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23. During that time, Iowa dropped three games to Big Ten rivals Ohio State and aforementioned Michigan.


While Herbine, a sophomore, and Wesneski, a junior, look to build upon their strong seasons in the future, changes are on the horizon for the Hawkeye defense.

For the past few seasons, Iowa has boasted one of the best defensive units in the nation on the backs of fifth-year seniors Anthe Nijziel, Lokke Stribos, and goalkeeper Grace McGuire. The trio stepped on Grant Field for the last time on Oct. 28.

Nijziel is a two-time first-team All-American and Stribos and McGuire each earned second-team All-America honors last season.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do when Lokke [Stribos] and Anthe [Nijziel] graduate,” Cellucci said after a 6-0 victory over Saint Louis on Sept. 4. “It’s been five years of just unbelievable, brick-wall defense, and they handle pressure better than anybody in the country. They do a great job, they stay very poised… I’m so thankful they’re on our team.”

With a good performance at the Big Ten Tournament, Nijziel, Stribos, and McGuire could reach the NCAA Tournament, which begins Nov. 11.