The University of Iowa soccer team faces second-seeded Illinois in round one of the Big Ten Regional Weekend. The game will be played at Demirjian Park in Champaign, Illinois, beginning at 7 p.m. (CT).
The winner of Thursday’s contest will face the winner of a game between Minnesota and Nebraska. The bracket champion will qualify for the four-team Big Ten Tournament, starting April 15.
- The game 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 finished the 2021 regular season with a 2-7-1 record and now kickoff postseason play with a rematch against Illinois. The Fighting Illini posted a 3-0 shutout in the last meeting between the two teams in week two.
- Iowa has won two of its final four games and posted three shutouts on the year.
- Things have opened up offensively over the final two weeks. After not scoring in their first six games, the Hawkeyes found the back of the net three times in recent outings. Sophomore Gianna Gourley, junior Samantha Tawharu, and junior Sara Wheaton have each scored one goal this season; Tawharu and Gourley each scored game-winners.
- Juniors Hailey Rydberg and Riley Whitaker were voted team captains for the 2021 spring season.
Iowa closed out the regular season with a 1-0 loss at Nebraska on April 3. Nebraska’s Gwen Lane scored her first career goal in the 22nd minute for the only score of the day. The Hawkeyes put up a 22 shot attempts (compared to Nebraska’s nine) but were unable to find the net.
ENNEKING AT GOALKEEPER
Freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking has given up just two goals in 412:03 minutes of game time this season, holding opponents to one score (2) or a shutout (2) in each of her four starts. The Hilliard, Ohio, native has notched 22 saves for a .917 save percentage.
LIMITING PENN STATE
The Hawkeyes held Big Ten regular-season champion Penn State to one goal on March 25 at the Iowa Soccer Complex. It was the Nittany Lions’ lowest offensive output in a game this season.
Six Hawkeye freshmen — Aleisha Ganief, Meike Ingles, Rielee Fetty, Jalyn Mosley, Maggie Johnston, and Macy Enneking — have all started games this season. Fetty has started a freshman-high 10 contests, while Johnston has started six games. Ingles and Ganief have each started eight contests and Mosley has been in the starting 11 three times before being injured in the win at Maryland. Enneking made her first collegiate start against the Terps.
The Hawkeyes out-shot their opponents in six of 11 regular season games, including the majority of their losses. Junior Hailey Rydberg (29) and freshman Meike Ingles (20) lead the way in shot attempts, taking 42 percent of the team’s shots.
Seven Iowa position players have played the entirety of multiple games this season. They are: Sara Wheaton (9), Rielee Fetty (7), Samantha Cary (6), Diane Senkowski (5), Aleisha Ganief (5), Hailey Rydberg (3), and Samantha Tawharu (2).
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.
- 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 entered the year with 24 career starts. Junior Josie Durr entered the season with 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 in redshirt freshman Sabrina Shaw and freshman Macy Enneking.
- 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.
- Illinois finished the regular season with a 6-4-1 record. The Illini tied for fifth in the conference standings.
- Iowa lost to Illinois, 3-0, in the early regular season meeting. The Illini are tied for fourth in the Big Ten in scoring, and that high-powered offense put up the highest total the Hawkeye defense has allowed this season.
- Goalkeeper Sami Sample has been a breakout-star for Illinois this year. Sample leads the conference in saves (54) and save percentage (.844). The senior played just 14 minutes for the Illini prior to being named a starter this season.
- Redshirt sophomore Kendra Pasquale leads the Illini in scoring (5). Two of those goals came against Iowa on February 25.
- Sami Sample, sophomore Aleah Treiterer, and freshman Joanna Verzosa-Dolezal have played the entirety of every game this season for Illinois.
- Illinois has won three Big Ten Tournament titles under head coach Janet Rayfield, the most recent of which came in 2011.
Iowa is 9-15-1 all-time against Illinois. The Hawkeyes fell to the Fighting Illini, 3-0, early this year on Feb. 25.
The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to the second round of the Big Ten Regional Weekend on Sunday, April 11, at Demirjian Park in Champaign, Illinois.