UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With three different Hawkeye goal scorers, the ninth-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team upended No. 7 and third-seeded Penn State, 3-2, in double overtime in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals on Sunday. Iowa trailed 1-0 at halftime and clawed its way to a 2-1 lead late in the second half, before closing the game in the second overtime period on a goal from Anthe Nijziel.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Neither team was tested until 20 minutes into the game. Penn State was on the offensive first in the 14th minute, recording back-to-back penalty corner attempts. Iowa blocked an Anna Simon shot on the first attempt, while goalkeeper Leslie Speight made a great diving save to stop Aurelia Meijer’s shot. However, the Nitanny Lions found the back of the net first, scoring in the 12th minute on a redirect goal from Moira Putsch.
The Hawkeyes escaped the first half trailing by only one goal after Penn State recorded three shots in the final 1:47 of the first half. Iowa’s lackluster first half, which featured only one shot and no penalty corners, didn’t carry over to the second half.
Iowa registered its first penalty corner of the game seven minutes into the second half, but Ellie Holley‘s shot from the top of the circle sailed wide. Two more penalty corner attempts followed with Sophie Sunderland scoring the equalizing goal on a redirect from Nijiziel who was credited with the assist. The game was tied at one with 24 minutes to play.
Iowa’s strong second half continued when Holley put the Hawkeyes ahead on a goal from the right side. Nijziel notched her second assist of the game and the Hawkeyes were in control.
Hawkeye goalkeeper Leslie Speight made two key saves with 14 and 12 minutes remaining, but the Nitanny Lions still weren’t going away. In the final five minutes Penn State recorded three penalty corners, scoring with 1:14 remaining when Anna Simon’s shot off of a penalty corner found the back of the cage, passing Speight’s outstretched arms. The game headed to overtime at two goals apiece.
The Hawkeyes dominated most of the first overtime period. Katie Birch had a great look on a breakaway three minutes in to overtime, but Penn State’s goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo made the crucial save. Birch had a one-on-one opportunity again with three minutes remaining, but Rizzo made another save. Speight sent the game to double overtime with two saves in the final 30 seconds of the first overtime period.
Speight’s clutch saves continued in the second overtime period, stopping two Penn State shots in the seventh minute of double OT. On Iowa’s first corner since 17:27 of the second half, Nijziel netted the game-winning goal on an entry pass from Murphy. Nijziel’s game-ending goal from the top of the circle capped off a thrilling 3-2 Hawkeye victory.
QUOTING COACH CELLUCCI
“We started slow and found ourselves in a hole in the first half. We made adjustments at halftime and we were a whole different team in the second half. We showed unbelievable grit in both overtimes. I am so proud of the team. On to the semifinals.”
- Today’s win marks Iowa’s first Big Ten Tournament win since 2013 when Iowa advanced to the Big Ten Championship.
- It’s the second 3-2 victory Iowa has recorded over Penn State this season. The Hawkeyes beat Penn State at home on Oct. 12 behind Maddy Murphy’s hat trick.
- Leslie Speight’s 10 saves set a new career high. It’s the third time this season she has recorded eight or more saves.
- All three of Iowa’s goals were scored off penalty corner attempts. Iowa recorded six penalty corners for the game with four coming in the second half.
- Anthe Nijziel’s game-winning goal and two assists led the Hawkeyes with four points on the day. It was her fifth goal and third and fourth assists of the season.
Iowa will face second-seeded Michigan in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. (CT) in Evanston, Illinois. The game will be televised on BTN. Iowa fell to Michigan, who claimed Co-Big Ten regular season champion honors, earlier this year, 2-1, at home.