IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s soccer team will kick off the season against South Dakota in an exhibition match Saturday at 3 p.m. (CT) at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex. The game is the first of two exhibition matches the Hawkeyes host before the fall season gets underway. The second exhibition is scheduled for Aug. 13 against UNI.
Iowa returns all but one player from last season’s squad, which overcame a slow start to win the program’s first Big Ten title and reach the NCAA Tournament Second Round for the first time in school history.
Last spring, the Hawkeyes were one of the most youthful teams in the nation as a group of new young playmakers emerged throughout the season. Sophomore Meike Ingles closed out her rookie campaign with four postseason goals, earning Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Offensive Player accolades. Sophomore goalkeeper Macy Enneking was named the conference tournament most Outstanding Defensive Player and was a unanimous Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection.
They look to lead a group of impactful underclassmen this season, though the team will also feature a robust class of nine senior leaders anchored by midfielder Hailey Rydberg, who was a captain last season and voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. Senior Sara Wheaton is also the returning Iowa Defensive Player of the Year, while redshirt senior Josie Durr started all 17 games last season and is the team’s most experienced player.
The Hawkeyes welcome nine newcomers this year, including seven freshmen and two graduate transfers. Courtney Powell was Iowa State’s top offensive weapon last spring, leading the team in points (8), goals (4), shots (29) and shots on goal (23). She is joined by Alyssa Walker, who scored four goals for Richmond last season and previously earned second-team Atlantic-10 All-Conference honors in 2019.
South Dakota finished 9-7-1 last season. The Coyotes return 11 seniors, starting goalkeeper Emma Harkleroad, and their top four scorers from last season who combined for 22 goals. Alexis Mitchell was the team’s leading scorer (seven goals), followed by Shaylee Gailus (six goals), Taylor Ravelo (five goals), and Jordan Centineo (four goals). Taylor Cotter led South Dakota with eight assists last spring.
Iowa opens the regular season with road games at DePaul on Aug. 19 and Saint Louis on Aug. 22. The Hawkeyes host Iowa State at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex.