Challenge Accepted: No. 3 Iowa Topples No. 1 North Carolina, 3-1

IOWA CITY, Iowa – For the first time since 2008, the University of Iowa field hockey team downed top-ranked North Carolina, defeating the Tar Heels, 3-1, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Sunday afternoon in front of 814 fans at Grant Field.

The Hawkeyes are 2-0 for a second straight season.  It is the first time Iowa has gone 2-0 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge play in program history (the event started in 2002).

Iowa’s aggressive offense pushed the pace of the game, with three Hawkeyes scoring three goals to come out on top.

“That was a big part of our game plan was trying to put them under pressure right away and get them on their heels and pepper the goalkeeper,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci. “That was key that we were able to do that, and it was great that we could knock in the first goal.”

Senior goalkeeper Grace McGuire keyed the win on the defensive end, recording nine saves to limit the Tar Heels offense.

“Grace is a gamer,” said Cellucci. “She made key saves, and she organized our defense really well. We kept the plays as predictable as possible.”

The Hawkeyes tallied six shots in the first quarter, holding the Tar Heels shotless. In the second quarter, senior Ellie Holley dribbled down the field and crossed the ball to senior Maddy Murphy, who put it away for the first goal of the contest.   It was Murphy’s second goal in as many games.

With five minutes left in the second quarter, North Carolina answered with a strike from Erin Matson off a rebound to tie the score at one.

The Hawkeyes got the game-winner in the 43rd minute from senior Meghan Conroy.  Murphy sent a ball from right to left to Ellie Holley, who found Conroy on the right of the cage.  She put the shot past Abigail Taylor for her second career strike.

“Today was a team effort, Maddy hit a great ball to Ellie and I was in the right place at the right time,” Conroy said. “We finished to the final minute and I think that’s what got us the ‘W’ today.”

“Meg is a great utility player for us,” said Cellucci. “She works so hard and is always ready. It just proves being ready on the bench and going in and executing your role, and she was a shining example of that today.”

After the Tar Heels pulled their goalie with 11 ½ minutes remaining, Holley put the game away.  The senior broke away from the defense and got her stick on the ball while falling to the ground to push the Hawkeye advantage to 3-1.


“This was a long time coming for this group, especially with the last couple of years and the close matchups we’ve had.  I told them today this is going to be a great one if we show up and play the way we know how, fight through the game with a lot of grit and stick to our tactics, we have an opportunity to win. The team was fantastic I couldn’t be prouder.”


  • Conroy’s goal was her first career game-winner and the second strike of her career. The opportunistic goal came after Conroy played just seven minutes in the victory.
  • It is Iowa’s first win over North Carolina since 2008, when it defeated the Tar Heels, 3-2, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, traveling to Boston to take on New Hampshire in a neutral site game at 2 p.m. (CT).