BUIES CREEK, N.C. — The University of Iowa soccer team lost a heartbreaker to No. 3 UCLA on Friday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, bringing the historic 2021 season to a close.
The Hawkeyes entered the game on a roll, following up a 2-8-1 regular season performance with a five-game postseason win streak to earn the program’s first Big Ten Tournament Championship and first NCAA Tournament victory.
It looked like things might continue that way on Friday, as Iowa led the Bruins for nearly 80 minutes before giving up a pair of late scores. The Hawkeyes had won three consecutive shutouts by 1-0 margins, aided by early scores and three postseason goals from Meike Ingles. So, when the freshman rocketed her fourth goal of the season in the sixth minute of play, things seemed to be right on track in Buies Creek.
Alas, two scores from UCLA’s Reilyn Turner boosted the PAC 12 champs past the finish line in the final six minutes of competition. Until that point, the Hawkeye defense had held firm in what would have been their eighth shutout of the season, stopping 19 shots before a final barrage gave the Bruins the scores they needed.
Despite the tough loss, there is plenty of reason for optimism; the Hawkeyes opened the season on a six game scoring drought before finding the back of the net 13 times to end the year. Iowa recorded seven shutouts this season and held opponents to one score or fewer in 12 of 17 games. The team loses one key senior Diane Senkowski, but otherwise returns the entire roster from the history making group.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH DAVE DIIANI
“That’s the most inspirational performance I’ve ever been a part of in my 18 years of being a head coach. Not just today, but the last three weeks. Playing with 17 total healthy players, being the underdog and on the road against every team we have played. It has been a blessing to coach them during this run.
“I’m so sad for them that we couldn’t do more today to get the result. UCLA is an incredibly talented team and I was pleased with our tactical and physical commitment to each other. As heart-breaking as this loss is, it’s a great reminder of what the standard needs to be next fall for our program, and we’ve gained invaluable experience as players. We will grow from this and come back better than ever.”
- Hailey Rydberg and Meike Ingles led the way in shot attempts with four of Iowa’s nine total shots each; the pair also led the team in shots this season, with Rydberg registering 44 shots and Ingles taking 38 of the Hawkeyes’ 185 attempts on the year.
- Goalkeeper Macy Enneking recorded 4 saves on Friday, bringing her season total up to 52 saves across 10 games. The freshman made nine starts this season, allowing just 5 goals in 956 game minutes.
- Iowa’s three subs—Gianna Gourley, Olivia Hellweg, and Natalie Mass—combined for 58 minutes as Coach DiIanni rode the starters for most of the afternoon.
- 90 TRACKER: Six Hawkeye position players played the duration of Tuesday’s game. They are: Sara Wheaton (14), Diane Senkowski (11), Samantha Cary (9), Hailey Rydberg (7), Josie Durr (6), and Samantha Tawharu (4).