No. 23 University of Iowa women’s soccer hosts Illinois on Sunday to open Big Ten Conference play. The Hawkeyes will celebrate Junior Hawk Day at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Admission is free to all home soccer games.
- Sunday’s match will stream on B1G+ (subscription required).
- Links to streaming and live stats can be found at hawkeyesports.com/soccergameday.
- Fans can follow the Iowa soccer program on Twitter (@HawkeyeSoccer) for live in-game updates.
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI
- Illinois is 4-2-1 overall (.643) heading into Big Ten play. The Fighting Illini have already faced four power five conference teams on the road, including wins over No. 17 Xavier (1-0) and Louisville (2-1). Illinois fell to SEC opponents Kentucky (1-0) and Missouri (2-1), consecutively.
- Illinois is 2-2-1 in road contests this season, with a scoreless draw against Dayton on Aug. 27.
- Lia Howard and Sydney Stephens lead Illinois offensively with six points apiece.
- Senior goalkeeper Julia Cili was voted team MVP last season; Cili has 30 saves at an .811 percentage.
- Illinois has allowed a 1.14 goals against average compared to Iowa’s 0.14 GAA.
- Head Coach Janet Rayfield has led Illinois to over 200 victories, including more than 100 Big Ten wins.
Iowa trails 11-15-2 in the all-time series against Illinois. The two teams tied, 2-2, last season on Sept. 29, 2022, in Champaign, Illinois. The Hawkeyes are 3-1-1 against the Fighting Illini since 2019, including a, 2-1, overtime victory in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Iowa is off to a fast start after an unbeaten non-conference slate. The Hawkeyes, picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten by conference coaches this season, are 6-0-1 heading into conference play. That record is Iowa’s best to start the season since winning its first nine games in 2019.
- Head Coach Dave DiIanni is in his 10th season at the helm of the Iowa women’s soccer program. Last fall, the Hawkeyes finished 5-6-7 overall with a 2-3-5 Big Ten record, a few points shy of conference postseason qualification. Iowa returns eight players with at least three years of collegiate playing experience, including seventh-year player Josie Durr and fifth-year Samantha Cary, who was a captain last fall. Cary helps lock down a Hawkeye defense that averaged just one goal allowed per game over the past two seasons while posting 13 clean sheets during that span.
- Many of those veterans played for Iowa during its Cinderella-run in the 2020-21 postseason, which saw a two-win regular season result in the first Big Ten Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament win in school history. One such player is redshirt junior Meike Ingles, who scored all four of her goals that year in the postseason, including three game-winners during the Big Ten Tournament. Ingles netted a hat-trick in fall 2021 vs. Illinois (10/17) and scored Iowa’s first goal of the 2023 season at FGCU.
- Another offensive headliner is junior Elle Otto, whose three goals, five assists and 11 points last season are returning team-bests. Otto already has three a team-high three goals again this season.
- Senior Macy Enneking returns in goal. Enneking ranks fifth in program history for career wins (19) and ties for third in career shutouts (15).
- Iowa welcomes 16 newcomers, including 13 freshmen and three transfers.
- Cary, Enneking and Ingles earned Big Ten Preseason Honors.
- Cary, Enneking, and senior Maggie Johnston were voted team captains for the 2023 season.
Iowa finishes the non-conference slate 6-0-1 following a scoreless draw at No. 18 Virginia and a, 3-0, shutout at George Mason. Iowa has now posted six clean sheets this season.
- The Hawkeyes fended off 11 second-half shots to maintain the shutout over the ranked Cavaliers. Goalkeeper Macy Enneking came up with a pair of clutch saves during that second-period stretch.
- Iowa has allowed just three goals in its last four games against ranked opponents, posting a 1-1-2 record in those contests dating back to the start of last season.
- Junior Elle Otto got things started for Iowa at George Mason, converting a look in the box off assists from sophomore Morgan Lietz and junior Kenzie Roling. With under eight minutes remaining before halftime, senior Kelli McGroarty scored her first goal of the season to extend the Hawkeye lead. The goal came on a long cross-field pass from junior Delaney Holtey which swept passed multiple Patriot defenders; senior Maggie Johnston gave the ball one more tap to set up the score. A header from senior Samantha Cary put the game away in the 77th minute.
- The Hawkeyes posted a 25-1 advantage in shots against George Mason. Iowa’s 10 corner kicks were its most since March 20, 2021, vs. Troy.
HOW ABOUT THAT HAWKEYE
Fifth-year Samantha Cary took home another round of awards this week.
- Cary was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row for her efforts at the defender position in a scoreless draw at No. 18 Virginia and a, 3-0, clean sheet vs. George Mason. Cary played all ninety minutes on the defensive back line against the Cavaliers, as Iowa withstood 11 shots in the second half. Cary also piled on the final goal against George Mason, her first score of the year coming on a header in the 78th minute.
- Cary also was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
- Iowa is ranked No. 23 in the Top Drawer Soccer national rankings. That marks the program’s highest ranking in a major poll since the 2019 season when the Hawkeyes reached a program-best No. 19 rank in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.
- The Hawkeyes check in at No. 29 in the College Soccer News Top 30.
- Iowa moves up to fourth in the United Soccer Coaches North Region poll. The Hawkeyes received five votes in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.
The Hawkeyes are led by a veteran core that spans the pitch.
- Along with midfielder Josie Durr (7th-Year) and defender Samantha Cary (5th-Year), the senior class includes Macy Enneking (GK), Rielee Fetty (M), Kelli McGroarty (F/M) and Maggie Johnston (F/M).
- Redshirt juniors Meike Ingles (F) and Zoë Bessert (F) are also entering their fourth seasons.
- Together, the group of eight players entering their fourth season now total 274 career starts for the Hawkeyes. Six more juniors round out the Iowa upper class.
The Hawkeyes welcome 16 newcomers, including 13 incoming freshmen and three transfers.
- The following freshmen have seen the pitch for Iowa this season: Millie Greer (7 games played, 7 starts), Sofia Bush (7-3), Abby Skiff (7-2), Eva Pattison (5-0), Sophie Kincaid (3, 0), Keira Smyser (2-0) and Kearstyn Gladden (1-0).
- Iowa also welcomes three transfers in junior goalkeeper Taylor Kane, sophomore forward Shae Doherty and senior midfielder Kelli McGroarty.
- In 2021, McGroarty led La Salle in goals (3), shots (46) and shots on goal (24). McGroarty has one goal this season and her 19 shots are the most by a Hawkeye through seven games.
- Kane (Pomona-Pitzer) and Doherty (Belmont) combined for 21 starts and 35 games played at their previous stops. Doherty has three points this season for Iowa.
2 FOR THE MONEY
The Hawkeyes are undefeated in their last 42 games when scoring two goals or more. Dating back to the 2017 season, Iowa has a record of 39-0-3 when scoring two goals or more. That includes a 4-0-0 record this season, 4-0-2 record in 2022, 9-0 in 2021, 2-0 in 2020, 13-0-1 in 2019 and 5-0 in 2018. The Hawkeyes won their final two games in 2017 when scoring two-plus goals. The last time Iowa lost a game while netting at least two goals was Oct. 1, 2017, at Michigan State (L, 3-2).
SHARING THE WEALTH
Nine Hawkeyes have combined for 13 goals to start the season, including Elle Otto (3), Kenzie Roling (2), Josie Durr (2), Samantha Cary, Shae Doherty, Sofia Bush, Meike Ingles, Sophie Kincaid and Kelli McGroarty.
- Roling leads Iowa with eight points and four assists this season.
- McGroarty has taken a team-high 19 shots, while Durr leads the way with eight shots on goal.
- The Hawkeyes have outscored opponents 13-1 this season. Iowa has a 113-39 advantage in shots against its opponents and a 50-17 advantage in shots on goal.
- In 2022, eleven different Hawkeyes combined for 26 goals. Departing seniors Hailey Rydberg and Caroline Halonen led the way with five goals apiece, followed by Otto with three goals.
- Returning Hawkeye goal-scorers from last season are Otto (3), Durr, Cary, Morgan Lietz, Kellen Fife, Addie Bundy and Camille Welker.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Hawkeye defense has allowed just one goal and 17 shots on goal this season. Iowa’s six clean sheets through seven games match its total number of shutouts from last season.
- Iowa has held opponents to two shots or fewer in 10 of 14 halves of competition this season.
- Senior Macy Enneking ranks fifth in the Hawkeye record book with 19 career victories (.724 win percentage). Enneking’s 15 career shutouts tie Emily Moran ’11 for third in program history.
- In 2023, Enneking ranks first among Big Ten goalkeepers for goals against average (.146), second for save percentage (.941) and third for shutouts per game (5-of-7, .714). Enneking has permitted just one goal this season while nabbing 16 saves.
The addition of a new operations building, completed in 2022, marked the beginning of a new era for the University of Iowa Soccer Complex. The space houses the Hawkeyes’ locker room and team rooms, athletic training room, coaches’ offices, press box and more. Last season also brought upgraded field lights, providing increased visibility and interactive fan capabilities. This season, the facility debuts a new video scoreboard to further advance the match day environment.
Iowa travels to Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 21 to take on the Badgers at 7 p.m. at the McClimon Soccer Complex. The Hawkeyes return home on Sept. 24 to host Minnesota for Go Green for Mental Health Day at the Iowa Soccer Complex. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.