The University of Iowa soccer team will host Michigan on March 4 in its home opener. The game will be held at the TBK Sports Complex in Bettendorf, Iowa, beginning at noon (CT). The Hawkeyes also host Northwestern in Bettendorf on March 8 at 11 a.m. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, general admission fans will not be permitted to attend the contests.
- Both Thursday and Sunday’s games will be streamed live on BTN+.
- Live stats will be available on hawkeyesports.com.
- Fans can follow the Iowa soccer program on Twitter (@HawkeyeSoccer) for live in-game updates.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Head coach Dave DiIanni is in his seventh season at the helm of the soccer program. In 2019, DiIanni led the Hawkeyes to a 15-5-1 overall record and an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.
- The Hawkeyes have out-shot each of their first three opponents, but the team is still looking for its first goal of the 2021 campaign.
- Iowa returns six starters from a team that won a school-record 15 games in 2019. The Hawkeyes replace a senior class that accounted for 25 goals and included the all-time wins leader Claire Graves in goal.
- Three Hawkeyes — Hailey Rydberg, Sara Wheaton, and Samantha Cary — were named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors List. Iowa was picked to finish sixth of 14 teams in the preseason coaches’ poll.
- Junior Samantha Tawharu and sophomore Gianna Gourley return as the team’s top two goal scorers with five apiece. Tawharu scored five goals on just 19 shots and she finished with 15 points — one off the team lead.
- The Hawkeyes have eight newcomers — all freshman — to round out the 28-player roster.
- Juniors Hailey Rydberg and Riley Whitaker were voted team captains for the 2021 spring season.
- The Hawkeyes will play 11 games over a seven-week period before competing in a Big Ten Wildcard Weekend from April 8-11. The semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament will be held April 15, but it will include only four teams.
Iowa fell 2-0 at Indiana at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hoosiers were propelled to victory by two goals from Avery Forbes. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Monica Wilhelm made three saves in the span of 40 seconds in the second half, but it wasn’t enough for the Hawkeyes to pull out a win.
Junior Sara Wheaton is the only Hawkeye position player to have reached 90 minutes in each of Iowa’s three games this season. Other Hawkeyes to play all 90 minutes include: Aleisha Ganief (2), Samantha Cary (1), and Rielee Fetty (1).
The Hawkeyes most experienced position on the roster is the defender position where juniors Sara Wheaton and sophomore Sam Cary started every game in 2019. The duo was instrumental in Iowa allowing just 18 goals in 21 games and posting six shutouts.
A year after having one of the most veteran teams in the nation, the Hawkeyes have one of the youngest. Iowa has only one senior on the 2021 spring roster in Diane Senkowski. Eighteen of the 28 players on the roster are underclassmen.
WHO’S IN GOAL
For the first time in four seasons, Iowa has a starter not named Claire Graves in goal. Redshirt sophomore Monica Wilhelm has helmed the goal in each of Iowa’s first three games.
2021 HOME GAMES “AWAY” FROM HOME
The Hawkeyes will play “home” games away from Iowa City for at least the early portion of the 2021 season. Iowa will play its first two home games this week at the TBK Banks Sports Complex in Bettendorf on March 4 and March 8. The Hawkeyes also could also play games in Cedar Rapids at Mount Mercy.
- The Hawkeyes have 28 players on the 2021 roster, which includes 10 freshmen/redshirt freshmen.
- Junior Samantha Tawharu and sophomore Gianna Gourley return after combining to start 16 games (eight apiece) during their first Hawkeye seasons. Junior Skylar Alward scored two goals in 18 games as a reserve as a sophomore
- The Hawkeye midfielder are anchored by junior Hailey Rydberg. The St. Charles, Illinois, native started 11 games as a sophomore and has 24 career starts. Junior Josie Durr has three career goals in 33 career games (11 starts).
- Along with sophomore Monica Wilhelm, the Hawkeyes have a total of three underclassmen at the goalkeeper position. Redshirt freshman Sabrina Shaw and freshman Macy Enneking have no collegiate experience.
- The Hawkeyes welcome eight newcomers to the mix in 2021, including two players — Enneking and Jayln Mosley — who joined the program last January.
- Forward/defender Aleisha Ganief played on the Canadian National Team, joining Tawharu, who was a part of the New Zealand Youth National Team prior to becoming a Hawkeye.
NEW DIGS ON THE HORIZON
Construction is underway on the new soccer operations facility at the Iowa Soccer Complex. The $4 million facility, which is expected to open in time for the 2021 fall season, will include a spacious locker room and lounge area, multi-purpose space, athletic training space, visiting team and official locker rooms, and a press box.
- Michigan has started the season 1-1-1 and enters Thursday’s game reeling from a 1-0 loss to Wisconsin. The Wolverines were picked to finish third in the conference by the Big Ten coaches.
- Northwestern is 2-1 in conference play thus far; another win would tie its 2019 total of three Big Ten wins. The Wildcats were picked to finish seventh in the Big Ten, one spot below Iowa.
- Michigan leads the series 17-5-3. The Hawkeyes have won two in a two in a row against the Maize and Blue and haven’t dropped a game since 2016.
- Iowa is 7-14-2 against Northwestern. The Wildcats won the most recent meeting 2-1 in 2019.
Iowa hosts Minnesota on March 14. A time and location will be dependent on weather.