IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa field hockey junior Katie Birchwas named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, while Anthe Nijzielwas named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week, the conference announced Monday afternoon.
It is the fourth weekly honor of Birch’s career and her first Defensive Player of the Week nod. The award is the first of Nijziel’s career.
A native of York, England, Birch helped anchor a Hawkeye defense that registered back-to-back 3-0 shutout wins over Penn and Indiana last weekend. Those two shutouts extended Iowa’s shutout streak to four games, which is Iowa’s longest streak since 2000. In two games this weekend Birch helped Iowa allow just six shots and six penalty corners. Birch helped Iowa stifle all six of Penn’s penalty corner attempts on Friday. She ranks second in the Big Ten with six assists.
Freshman defender Anthe Nijziel, who played a full 70 minutes in both games this weekend, is another key piece of the Hawkeye defense that has only allowed four goals in eight games this season. Nijziel has scored a goal in three straight games, including contests this weekend against Penn and Indiana. The Eindhoven, Netherlands, native scored both goals off penalty corners.
Birch, Nijziel, and the Hawkeyes have won six straight games and are off to their best eight-game start since 2011. Iowa travels to Evanston, Illinois, this weekend to face No. 11 Northwestern and California.