No. 7 Hawkeyes Begin NCAA Tournament Play on Friday

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The seventh-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team begins play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 9 against No. 12 Wake Forest at 1:30 p.m. (CT). Hosted by Duke, the Hawkeyes will travel to Durham, North Carolina, to play at Williams Field.

Iowa field hockey fans can follow all contest via live stats on Click on the “Live Stats” link found on the field hockey schedule page to access the live stats feed. Fans can follow @IowaFieldHockey on Twitter for live in-game updates.

Friday’s game will be streamed on Facebook live on Duke Field Hockey’s Facebook page. The stream will also be embedded on on Duke’s website. To find the streaming link, go to the schedule page of Iowa field hockey on 

Iowa was selected to the NCAA Tournament as one of 10 at-large bids. The Hawkeyes were placed in the Duke Regional, who are the No. 4 overall seed. No. 22 Boston and No. 24 Miami (OH) will face off in the play-in game with the winner facing Duke in the other first round matchup.

It’s the 23rd time Iowa has qualified for the NCAA Tournament and first appearance under head coach Lisa Cellucci. The Hawkeyes last made the NCAA Tournament in 2012 when they traveled to the Virginia Regional. Iowa is 26-23 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with a 1986 national title and three runner-up finishes.

Entering the Big Ten Tournament as a six seed via tiebreaker, the Hawkeyes took down two top-10 opponents en route to a runner-up finish. In the quarterfinals, Iowa moved passed third-seeded Penn State in double overtime thanks to Anthe Nijziel’s game-winning goal in the 85th minute. The Hawkeyes kept the momentum going in the semifinals, scoring two first-half goals against second- seeded Michigan to hold on to a 2-1 victory and advance to the Big Ten finals against top-seeded Maryland. In a back and forth game, Iowa registered six-of-nine shots on goal and nearly came back from a 2-0 deficit, but fell 2-1 in a rainy Big Ten Championship. Iowa’s second-place finish was its best since 2013. Sophomore Ellie Holley and freshman Anthe Nijziel earned Big Ten All-Tournament team honors.

• Iowa became the first ever six seed to advance to the Big Ten title game.
• Iowa’s 14 wins this season are the most since 2011 when the Hawkeyes went 15-5.
• Iowa is 9-0 when scoring at least three goals.
• The Hawkeyes are outscoring opponents 49-20 this season and have more than doubled their opponents in shots (263 to 126).
• The Hawkeyes are led by All-Big Ten selections — Maddy Murphy (first team), Katie Birch (second team), and Sophie Sunderland (second team). Murphy leads the team in goals (13) and points (33), which both rank fourth in the Big Ten. Birch leads the team with a career-high 10 assists and has the second most goals (8) for 26 points. Sunderland has the third most points on the team (18) with seven goals and four assists.
• Goalkeeper Leslie Speight, who has recorded a Big Ten best seven shutouts, has been in goal all season for Iowa’s dominant defense that’s allowing only one goal per game, which is the best in the conference and sixth best in the country.

• Wake Forest (11-9; 2-4) is coming off a runner-up finish in the ACC Championship, falling to No. 1 North Carolina 7-2, before beating No. 3 Duke in the semifinals. The Demon Deacons are 3-4 against top-25 opponents.
• It will be the second meeting between Iowa and Wake Forest this year. In their season opener, the Hawkeyes beat the Demon Deacons, 2-1, in Chapel, North Carolina, behind goals from Katie Birch and Maddy Murphy. The Hawkeyes have won seven of the last eight meetings against Wake Forest.
• The Demon Deacons are led by head coach Jennifer Averill, who owns a 374-182-3 in 27 seasons at Wake Forest.
• Wake Forest is led by first team All-ACC forward Jule Grashoff who has 22 goals. Midfielder Megan Anderson has 27 assists for the Demon Deacons, the most in the nation.

In a conference that features seven top-25 and five NCAA Tournament teams, Iowa finished the conference slate at .500 (4-4). Including the postseason, Iowa has faced 13 top-25 opponents, going 7-6 with two wins over Penn State.The Hawkeyes are 4-5 against six teams who qualified for the NCAA Tournament. All six of Iowa’s losses this season were from ranked opponents with five of them coming by one goal.

Three Hawkeyes — Maddy Murphy (first team), Katie Birch (second team), and Sophie Sunderland, (second team) — earned All-Big Ten honors. Murphy garnered first team All-Big Ten recognition after posting career highs in goals scored and total points, while Birch and Sunderland were named second team All-Big Ten selections. Senior Riley Kniptash was named Iowa’s Sportsmanship Award honoree. It was Murphy’s second career all-conference honor, Birch’s third career honor, and Sunderland’s first.

Iowa’s defense that averages only one goal per game — the seventh fewest in the nation — has shined all season. The Hawkeye defense has allowed only 126 shots and 71 penalty corners in 20 games this season. Junior goalkeeper Leslie Speight’s seven shutouts are the most in the Big Ten and her .744 save percentage is third best in the conference.

All seven freshman have seen the field this season. Freshmen Anthe Nijziel and Lokke Stribos have started all 20 games and have played a key part in the Hawkeye defense. In Iowa’s 3-2 quarterfinal win over Penn State, Nijziel, who earned Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Sept. 17, recorded four points on one goal and two assists. Nijziel earned All-Big Ten Tournament team honors after helping lead Iowa to its best finish in the Big Ten Tournament since 2013. On the season, Nijziel has five goals and four assists. Stribos recorded her fourth assist in Iowa’s 3-2 win over No. 6 Penn State. Freshmen have accounted for seven goals and eight assists this season.

Seven Hawkeyes have scored at least three goals, while 11 different Hawkeyes have scored a goal this season. Of Iowa’s 49 goals, 40 have been assisted on. Katie Birch leads the team with 10 assists, the fourth most in the Big Ten, while six other Hawkeyes have at least three assists.

Seven Big Ten schools — No. 2 Maryland, No. 7 IOWA, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Penn State, No. 11 Rutgers, No. 21 Ohio State, and No. 25 Northwestern — are ranked in the final Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll. Iowa has moved up 13 spots since being ranked 20th in the preseason rankings on Aug. 20. A Big Ten record five teams will compete in the NCAA Tournament.

Former two-time first team All-Big Ten selection and three-time Big Ten Tournament Champion, Roz Ellis, is back with the Hawkeyes as an assistant coach. Ellis started all 83 games of her career, scoring 14 goals, and recording 11 assists from 2005-08. Ellis was an assistant coach at five different schools before returning to her alma mater. As a senior and team captain in 2008, Ellis anchored a Hawkeye defense that reached the Final Four.

The other first-round matchup in the Duke Regional will feature No. 4 overall seed Duke and Boston/Miami (OH). The second round is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 11. Next weekend, the NCAA Final Four takes place in Louisville, Kentucky.

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