The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s soccer upsets top seed Michigan State in first round of Big Ten Tournament

Goals from Kelli McGroarty and Sofia Bush lifted the Hawkeyes past the Spartans and into the semifinals.
Casey Stone
Iowa midfielder Hailey Rydberg passes the ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Michigan State at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. Michigan State defeated Iowa, 2-1.

The Iowa women’s soccer team pulled off a stunning upset in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, beating top-seeded No. 12 Michigan State, 2-1, on Sunday in East Lansing, Michigan.

Iowa narrowly qualified for this year’s Big Ten tournament after finishing eighth in the conference. But seeds did not matter come game time, the Hawkeyes adjusting well after a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Spartans on Oct. 22.

RELATED: Iowa women’s soccer to face tough first-round matchup in Big Ten Tournament

Iowa was stout defensively to open the match but allowed one goal in the closing minutes of the first half.

Down one, the Hawkeyes came out attacking in the second half, scoring in the first five minutes after a goal from midfielder Kelli McGroarty. 

Hawkeye defender Samantha Cary earned the assist after she sent a cross to Michigan State’s back post, and McGroarty rose above her defender to get her head on the ball and knock it in.


Five minutes later, Iowa first-year midfielder Sofia Bush added her name to the scoresheet to put the Hawkeyes up one. 

Cary sent a corner kick in, and McGroary again got her head to the ball, setting Bush up for an easy tap-in goal. Both McGroarty and Cary were credited with the assist. 


Desperate for an equalizer in the closing minutes of the match, Michigan State pressed ahead, sending almost the entire team forward in attack, but the Iowa defense remained focused as the clock ticked down, and the Hawkeyes earned the 2-1 upset victory.

The win marks the highest-ranked team Iowa has beaten since defeating No. 4 Penn State in the 2020-21 Big Ten Tournament.

Adjustments on both ends 

The Hawkeyes made the correct adjustments after last weekend’s loss to the Spartans, and Michigan State thus struggled to find any space when they held possession. 

Iowa suffocated Michigan State’s attack with its press, surrounding the Spartans in the corners of the pitch and leaving them nowhere to go.

Similar to the defensive approach, the Hawkeyes adjusted on the offensive end, being more clinical in front of goal.

In the first matchup last Sunday, Iowa outshot Michigan State, 9-5, with four of the nine shots being on goal. And in the second match, the Hawkeyes outshot the Spartans, 11-9, but had eight shots on goal, keeping Michigan State on the back foot for the game.

Up next

Iowa will continue its Big Ten Tournament run in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, Nov. 2, against the fourth-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State is ranked sixth in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.

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About the Contributors
Isaac Elzinga, Sports Reporter
Isaac Elzinga is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass communication. This is his first year working at The Daily Iowan; he also works as a producer for 1600 ESPN a sports radio station in Cedar Rapids.