IOWA CITY, Iowa — The seventh-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team defeated the California Golden Bears, 4-2, on Friday at Grant Field.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Senior Katie Birch opened scoring in the 28th minute off a penalty corner after a faked shot from junior Ellie Holley, who passed it to freshman Esme Gibson and eventually passed the ball to Birch. California quickly countered with a goal from Lindsay Mathison in the final seconds of the half, assisted by Maddie Cleat.
Heading into the third period, California took the lead with a goal off a penalty stroke in the 34th minute. Iowa retaliated with a goal three minutes later from junior Nikki Freeman, who celebrated her 20th birthday with her first goal of the season.
“It was a team effort,” Freeman said. “We were all crowding the goal. I just managed to get the rebound in. We knew we had to bounce back. We definitely picked it up in the third quarter. Once we were down, we got momentum and put the goals in.”
The Hawkeyes continued their run when senior Sophie Sunderland scored in a dead time corner, unassisted in the 45th minute. Birch rounded out scoring in the fourth quarter with a tipped goal off a Golden Bear defender.
“It’s always good to get goals on the board,” Birch said. “I just want to help my team be as successful as we possibly can, just doing my part and helping others do what they need to do. Selflessness is something that we really put forward. I do my part for the team. If that means setting someone else up, that’s what I’m going to do.”
- Junior Nikki Freeman scored her first goal on the season, making her the 11th Hawkeye to score this season.
- Freshman Esme Gibson recorded her first assist as a Hawkeye on the opening goal from Katie Birch.
HEARING FROM HEAD COACH LISA CELLUCCI
On the unfolding of today’s game…
“We needed to have a much better defensive presence. California is a great team and they thrive on the counter attack and that’s exactly what happened. We knew we needed to outwork them defensively, keep moving, work together as a team, and play team defense. Once we started doing that, we were in a much better position.
“We have the ability for everybody to put a ball in the net, and it is awesome that we are sharing the ball. People are stepping up to put the ball in the net when we need it.”
On senior Katie Birch’s two goals…
“[Katie Birch] is taking her game to a whole other level. She’s all over the field. She’s basically our quarterback in the center of the field. Her possession is outstanding. Her individual defense is awesome, and she’s been finishing for us as well.”
On Sunday’s matchup against No. 2 Duke…
“Duke is outstanding. They’re number two in the country. They have a lethal attack, solid defense, and great goalkeeping as well. We have to play our game, and if we keep possession, we’re going to have opportunities to attack them. That’s the plan going forward. We need to get back to playing our brand of hockey.”
The No. 7 Hawkeyes host No. 2 Duke on Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT) at Grant Field. Sunday’s game is a GOLD OUT. Fans will receive Grant Goes Gold t-shirts while supplies last. Admission is free.