There is never a dull moment in Hawkeye sports. The Iowa field hockey an soccer teams faced stiff tests in their conference semifinals last week, while Iowa volleyball decided to make a (mid-season!) change at head coach.
Let's jump right in.
- The #1 ranked Hawkeyes took on Michigan in the Big Ten Conference semifinals last week, a rematch from the #1 vs #2 matchup from the regular season. This time, the Wolverines came out on top, besting the Hawks 3-2.
- The Wolverines took it to the Hawkeyes from the jump in the match, scoring early in the first period. Undeterred, Iowa answered back with Leah Zellner deflecting a shot into the back of the net. Michigan punched right back when Sofia Southam put away a penalty corner to take a 2-1 lead. After a defensive stalemate during the first match, the three-goal explosion in the first period was unexpected for both teams.
- The Hawks again kept their cool, pushing throughout the match for an equalizer while remaining solid on defense. Iowa found their equalizer in the third period, this time from Nikki Freeman. The score remained tied into the fourth quarter before Southam again found the back of the net and gave the Wolverines a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
- It was another disappointing loss for the Hawks, their second straight after going undefeated in their first 16 games. Iowa looked a step slow to start the match and Michigan took full advantage. Iowa showed good fight and had plenty of opportunities to tie the game or even pull ahead. The defense will have to be tighter as they move towards NCAA Tournament time.
- Speaking of, the NCAA tournament bracket was announced on Sunday and Iowa secured a slot in the Sweet Sixteen and the #2 overall seed. They'll take on American at home on November 12th. If they find their way past American, they'll face the winner of UNC/Northwestern for a trip to the Final Four. The Hawks beat then #1 UNC 3-1 early in the season and fell to Northwestern in the regular-season finale. When Iowa's at their best, they're the best in the country. Here's hoping they string a few great games together and can make a deep tournament run. More information about Iowa in the 2021 NCAA Tournament is available here.
- Iowa Soccer competed in their own Big Ten Tournament semifinal last week, but they too suffered a heartbreaking loss, 2-0 to top-seeded Rutgers.
- The Hawkeyes hung with the top seed throughout the first half, trading opportunities. The match remained scoreless until the 67th minute when Rutgers found an opening goal. Iowa immediately turned up the pressure looking for an equalizer, but the added focus on attacking left them vulnerable at the back and Rutgers took advantage, notching the insurance goal in the 81st minute.
- Iowa faced a tall task against the Scarlet Knights, but the Hawks looked like they belonged for much of the match. Their defense was tight and they forced Rutgers into multiple awkward situations. While the end result is disappointing, the team looked improved throughout the year and will no doubt continue to improve in the years to come. We were all hoping for another Cinderella run, but Iowa has seemingly graduated from scrappy underdog to full-fledged competitor in the Big Ten. Congrats to the entire team on their successful season.
- Riley Whitaker was chosen as part of the Big Ten's All-Tournament team due to her strong performance in both of Iowa's matches.
- Iowa Volleyball made a surprising move to start the week by firing Head Coach Vikki Brown. Coach Brown's record wasn't great in her two-plus seasons (17-56), but I was expecting at least one more year before the Hawks considered a switch. If nothing else, I fully expected her to finish out the year. Instead, Iowa decided to make a change for the final eight games of the season and will look to head in a new direction.
- The Hawks responded well to the coaching change in their first match of the week, topping Indiana three sets to one. They followed that up with a match against #4 Wisconsin, which they lost three sets to none.
- Against Indiana, Iowa found their way to early leads in the first, third, and fourth sets and kept the Hoosiers at arm's length to secure the wins. Edina Schmidt led the way with 19 kills, Courtney Buzzerio had 18 of her own, and Iowa secured another conference win.
Friday Night Dubs!! pic.twitter.com/iTgVq1t8Fd— Iowa Volleyball (@IowaVolleyball) November 6, 2021
- Iowa would have needed a Herculean effort to keep up with the Badgers, who showed why they are one of the best teams in the country. Wisconsin strung points together early and often, forcing Iowa to dig out of holes that ultimately proved too great. They showed a good fight in the second set, forcing it to 23-25, and were within one point late in the third set, 19-20, but Wisconsin looked poised and confident throughout the match.
- The Hawkeyes are back in action Thursday against #8 Minnesota before welcoming Maryland to town on the 13th.