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 aims to continue Cinderella run in Big Ten Tournament semifinals

The Hawkeyes hope to follow their upset win over Michigan State with another against Penn State.
Grace Smith
Iowa forward Meike Ingles chest bumps the ball during the Iowa women’s soccer match versus Penn State at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Thursday, March 25, 2021. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes, 1-0.

The Iowa women’s soccer team will look to continue its Cinderella run in the Big Ten Tournament with a semifinal matchup against No. 5 Penn State on Thursday after upsetting top seed No. 12 Michigan State in the first round. 

The Hawkeyes bounced back after suffering a 3-0 loss to Michigan State in the regular season a week before the upset, sneaking by the Spartans in the rematch and first-round contest on Oct. 29.

“We came out with the energy and belief that we were going to be able to get the job done,” senior midfielder Kelli McGroarty said of the upset. “We fought for it, and we were able to upset them, and we even came back from behind, so it was a really good day.”

But the Hawkeyes face a tough second-round matchup in the Nittany Lions. 

Penn State entered the Big Ten Tournament as the fourth seed after losing just one game in the regular season and defeated Indiana, 3-0, in the opening round.

The Nittany Lions boast a talented squad with four separate players earning all-Big-Ten recognition — and Cori Dyke was named Big Ten Defender of the Year. 

“I feel like Michigan State is a very similar team to us, and I feel like Penn State can be very different from us,” Hawkeye fifth-year defender Samantha Cary said. “[Penn State] is a very great offensive outputting team, and they play very technical soccer. We’re gritty; we’re tough, so it’s going to be two different styles of soccer out on the field.”

The Hawkeyes will need to be locked in defensively for Thursday’s match as the Nittany Lions scored 39 goals this season — fourth-best in the conference. 

But Iowa has reason to be confident after it held Michigan State to just one goal when the Spartans scored 45 in the season — second-most in the Big Ten. 

“We’re being fearless in tackles and relentless and tenacious when trying to win the ball,” Iowa freshman defender Eva Pattison said. “We’re doing that as a team, not as individuals. We’re doubling down on players so they can’t get out.”

Iowa must maintain a sharp mentality if the team wants to pull off another upset to advance to the final. 

McGroaty said after the initial excitement of the upset, she thought about avoiding a “hangover” after the win. She said the Hawkeyes have to keep motivating and holding each other accountable so they can continue to show their resolve and continue this run. 

“We know who Iowa soccer can be,” Cary said. “A couple of years ago in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, we showed that to Penn State.

“We have done this before,” she added. “It’s not unwritten territory. For us, it’s just a matter of focusing on what we do, knowing our mentality, knowing how we play soccer, and leaving it all on the field.”

Big picture

Iowa, seeded eighth in the tournament, was the only lower-seeded team to pull off an upset in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Second-seeded Nebraska beat seventh-seeded Ohio State, 3-2, as the nation’s top scorer, Eleanor Dale, scored two for the Cornhuskers.

Third-seeded Wisconsin snuck out with a win against sixth-seeded Rutgers. Neither team scored in regular time or overtime, so the game went to penalty kicks — where the Badgers would win, 4-1. 

Wisconsin and Nebraska will also duke it out on Thursday before Iowa’s match for a spot in the final this weekend.

Despite being the lowest seed in the tournament, McGroarty feels the Hawkeyes can pull off another upset against the Nittany Lions.

“The only thought I have going in is it’s just another game,” McGroarty said. “One thing I’ve said I love about the Big Ten is, yeah, you have rankings, but everyone can upset everyone because every team is just so talented. For us, it’s just another game that’s going to be another battle.”

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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.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.