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 beats Bucknell, 2-0, in overtime thriller of NCAA Tournament first round

The Hawkeyes were dominant all night but couldn’t break through in regulation.
Theodore Retsinas
Iowa midfielder Josie Durr goes for a header during a women’s soccer game between Iowa and Rutgers at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.

The Iowa women’s soccer team hosted its first NCAA Tournament match on Friday night at the Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City, Iowa — defeating Bucknell, 2-0, in an overtime thriller of a first round matchup.

Veteran Hawkeye midfielder Josie Durr scored the first goal for the Hawkeyes in the 95th minute after a long stalemate of a contest, and junior forward Elle Otto was credited with the assist.

Iowa’s Kelli McGroarty scored the second in the 109th minute to seal the win right before the match ended, and the assist was credited to forward Morgan Lietz.

“If you have an opportunity to put it in the back of the net, you have to do it in these high-pressure situations,” Durr said.

Although Otto may not have scored herself, she was a star performer tonight for the Hawkeyes. 

“She’s unbelievable; she’s such a warrior; she plays like she’s six feet tall, and she’s 5-foot-5,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “She is instrumental to everything we do.”

Iowa started off with the ball in the opening minutes and frequently came close to goal-scoring opportunities, but the attacks lacked the final ball needed to create a shot.

But the Hawkeyes remained committed to the attack and found a flurry of shots. The best opportunity came after third-year forward Kenzie Roling passed a ball over the top of the Bucknell back line to find Otto in space, leaving her one-on-one with the Bison’s goalkeeper Jenna Hall — who saved the shot to keep the score level at zero. 

Iowa continued to control the match in possession as Bucknell struggled to get the ball out of its own defensive half to get its own attack going. 

Bucknell also struggled with the Hawkeyes’ firm defense, adding to the Bison’s struggles in attack. Iowa immediately launched its high press after losing the ball, not giving Bucknell an inch of space to hold the ball and build that attack. 

In the closing minutes of the first half, the Hawkeyes continued to mount pressure in attack, getting three shots on goal, but couldn’t convert to take the lead, and the first half ended at 0-0. 

Iowa was the dominant team in the first half, outshooting Bucknell at 9-1 with four of the shots on goal. 

In the second half, Iowa continued its offensive dominance as the Hawkeyes continued to hold possession in the Bison’s defensive half, creating more goal-scoring opportunities, but Hall continued her great performance in the net to keep it knotted up. 

Iowa then snagged a corner kick, leading to yet another scoring opportunity for fifth-year defender Samantha Cary. She lined up a shot from just inside the box, and it was headed for the upper left corner, but Hall made a diving save and barely got her fingertips on it to push it over the bar. 

“Jenna has come up time and time again for us in her four years [here] with just incredible performances,” Bucknell head coach Kelly Cook said. “She’s just very consistent and knows how to make the big plays when we need it the most.”

The Hawkeyes continued to move the ball around well in their build-up on attack but struggled to finish their shots and convert them into goals. They worked for several shots, but Bucknell snuffed out any goal-scoring opportunity Iowa worked for from then on. 

Despite the Hawkeyes outshooting the Bison at 24-4, the goal never came in regulation for Iowa, and the match went to overtime. 

In the opening minutes of OT, Iowa lost one of its key players as fourth-year midfielder Maggie Johnston went down with an apparent leg injury. 

“She’s just been dealing with something for two weeks actually,” DiIanni said of the injury. “She’ll be back [for the second round].”

Despite losing Johnston, the Hawkeyes launched an attack again and finally broke through the Bison’s defense. 

The ball bounced off of a handful of Iowa heads and Bison defenders, and Durr found herself on the end of the ball and broke the deadlock by finally scoring from the edge of the box.

“It would have been nice to get it in regulation,” Durr said. “But you have got to grind it out and do what you have to do to win the game.”

Down one, Bucknell sent numbers forward, desperately trying to find an equalizer to send the match to penalty kicks. The Hawkeyes took advantage of this and launched a counter-attack in overtime. 

Iowa fourth-year midfielder Kelli McGroarty played a ball up to Otto, who played it back into the middle of the box. McGroarty got to it and put in another Hawkeye goal, effectively securing the 2-0 victory for Iowa.

“That’s how we thought the game was going to play out, to be honest,” DiIanni said. “[The Bison] don’t quit. They compete. They play hard, and they’re athletic.”

Bigger picture

Coming off of the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa continued its hot streak with its fourth win in a row. 

The Hawkeyes will have to finish better going forward in the NCAA Tournament, but the defensive performances have been crucial during this run. 

The match brought 2,639 attendees. 

“I couldn’t be more gracious and thankful that [so] many people came out there and braved the cold and supported us,” Cary said. “It speaks volumes about what a time it is for women’s sports and that we have a community in Iowa City that really supports women’s sports and wants to boost us up.”

Up next

Iowa will play Georgia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament next week at Clemson University. 

“It’s definitely a more physical, fast-paced game, but I feel like we’ll bring more of our talent to the game,” said Otto, a Mississippi State transfer who knows SEC soccer all too well. “I feel like we’ll match up with them just as much because I feel like we can play in the SEC.”

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About the Contributors
Isaac Elzinga
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.
Theodore Retsinas
Theodore Retsinas, Photojournalist
Theodore Retsinas is a freshman at the University of Iowa studying Neuroscience.