The University of Iowa soccer team faces top-seeded Penn State on Thursday in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The game will be played at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pennsylvania, beginning at 4 p.m. (CT).
The Hawkeyes are one of four conference teams who survived Big Ten Regional Weekend to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. Thursday’s semifinal victor will face the winner of Rutgers and Wisconsin in the championship game on April 18.
- Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network with Dean Linke (play-by-play) and Jackie Manny (color) on the call.
- 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.
- It is the third time in school history Iowa has advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals (and the second under DiIanni (2014). The Hawkeyes advanced to the championship game in both 2013 and 2014.
- It is the first time since 2011-14 that Iowa has qualified for consecutive Big Ten Tournaments.
- Iowa finished the 2021 regular season with a 2-7-1 record and were seeded seventh in its bracket heading into Big Ten Regional Weekend. Iowa upset Illinois in the first round thanks to a golden goal from freshman Meike Ingles, then defeated Minnesota to qualify for their second consecutive Big Ten Tournament.
- The Hawkeyes have won four of their last six games, including three of their last four.
- Things have opened up offensively over the final weeks. After not scoring in their first six games, five Hawkeyes have combined for seven goals since March 18.
- Juniors Hailey Rydberg and Riley Whitaker were voted team captains for the 2021 spring season.
The Hawkeyes dominated Sunday’s rematch against Minnesota, converting two scores in the first 10 minutes before shutting out the Gophers to advance to the conference tournament semifinals. Freshman Meike Ingles stole a pass from Minnesota goalkeeper Megan Plaschko in the first minute of the game, then quickly booted a shot over the keeper’s head for the first goal. Minutes later, junior Samantha Tawharu intercepted another pass from Plaschko and arced a deep shot from well outside the penalty box and bent it into the goal.
ENNEKING AT GOALKEEPER
Freshman goalkeeper Macy Enneking notched three saves against Minnesota en route to her fourth career victory. The Hilliard, Ohio, native has given up just three goals in 594:14 minutes of game time this season, holding opponents to one score (3) or a shutout (3) in each of her six starts. Enneking has notched a conference-best .912 save percentage this season.
GOAL YOU VERY MUCH
Five different Hawkeyes have scored this season, including strikes from redshirt junior Josie Durr, juniors Sara Wheaton and Samantha Tawharu (2), sophomore Gianna Gourley, and freshman Meike Ingles (2).
- Ingles and Gourley each scored game-winners. Ingles has recorded the game-winner in both of Iowa’s two postseason games and they were her first two career strikes.
Six Hawkeye freshmen have started games this season. Rielee Fetty has started a freshman-high 12 contests, while Maggie Johnston has started six games. Meike Ingles and Aleisha Ganief have each started 10 contests, and Jalyn 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 have out-shot their opponents in seven of 13 games this season. Junior Hailey Rydberg (35) and freshman Meike Ingles (27) lead the way in shot attempts, taking 45 percent of the team’s shots.
Seven Iowa position players have played the entirety of multiple games this season. They are: Sara Wheaton (11), Rielee Fetty (9), Samantha Cary (8), Diane Senkowski (7), Aleisha Ganief (5), Hailey Rydberg (3), Josie Durr (2) 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.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
- Penn State finished the regular season with a 9-1-1 record before beating Indiana at the Big Ten Regional Weekend.
- The Nittany Lions finished on top of the conference regular season standings, earning the Big Ten Tournament one-seed.
- Iowa lost to Penn State, 1-0, in the regular season meeting on March 25. The Hawkeyes held PSU to its lowest scoring output this season.
- PSU leads the Big Ten in goals, assists, shots, and shots on goal.
- Iowa is 2-26-0 all-time against Penn State with both victories coming in the 2013 season. Iowa hasn’t scored against the Nittany Lions since 2015 and has never won in University Park.
- The Hawkeyes have faced the Nittany Lions five times in the Big Ten Tournament all-time, most recently in 2019 — a 2-0 defeat. Iowa beat Penn State, 1-0, as the No. 7 seed in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament in Champaign to advance to its first ever championship game.
The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to the championship game on April 18.