UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three first-half goals from the University of Iowa field hockey team propelled the second-seeded Hawkeyes to a 4-1 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over seventh-seeded Ohio State on Thursday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. With the win, Iowa advances to the conference tournament semifinals for the second straight year.
“It’s incredible to move onto (the semifinals),” said senior Katie Birch who began Iowa’s onslaught of four goals. “It’s another fantastic opportunity to show what Iowa field hockey is all about. We’re so excited to be here. We’re having so much fun. We know whoever we end up playing (tomorrow) — Northwestern or Rutgers — it’s going to be a battle.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Hawkeyes were on the offensive early, ripping off six shots in the first quarter. Iowa’s first goal of the game came from the stick of Katie Birch with an assist from sophomore Ciara Smith. It was Birch’s seventh goal of the season.
With 14 seconds left in the first quarter, sophomore Lokke Stribos gave Iowa a 2-0 lead off a penalty corner, capping off a dominant first quarter from the Hawkeyes.
Iowa’s third goal of the first half was on an unassisted goal from freshman Esme Gibson. She took the ball from near midfield into the circle and scooted ball into the right side of the cage to score her first career goal.
“Esme (Gibson)’s goal was fantastic,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “She’s an unbelievable eliminator, and she used her speed and hand speed, and put the ball in the right place.”
The Hawkeye defense stepped up in the final minutes of the first half, fending off three Ohio State penalty corner attempts. Iowa led 3-0 at halftime.
A minute and a half into the second half, Lokke Stribos added her second goal of the game on a near identical penalty corner play to give the Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead.
“Lokke (Stribos) has been on fire with penalty corner goals,” Cellucci said. “We’ve been training that all year, and it’s coming into fruition right now in the postseason. She hit two solid balls.”
Ohio State scored a late goal with less than four minutes to play off a penalty corner, but it was mostly all Hawkeyes for four quarters. Iowa outshot Ohio State 15 to five, and Iowa goalkeeper Leslie Speight faced only two shots on goal.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH LISA CELLUCCI
“The first half, particularly the first quarter, was outstanding. It was great to get three goals on the board. We started out really fast. That was a part of our game plan – trying to put Ohio State under pressure right away and take away their momentum. We did a fantastic job of that.”
“We held strong (defensively). They definitely came at us in the second quarter, third quarter, and parts of the fourth. We were great defensively as a unit along with unbelievable individual defense.”
- It is the second straight year the Hawkeyes have advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
- Lokke Stribos’ first career multi-goal game raised her season total to 10, becoming the second Hawkeye to reach double digits in goals scored.
The Hawkeyes face third-seeded Northwestern tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. (CT).