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‘Great Wall of Iowa’ has helped Hawkeyes start 8-0

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 8:56 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - For the first time since 1999, the Iowa field hockey team is 8-0 to start the season. One of the most impressive groups out of the gate has been their defense – who has an even better nickname.

“We take pride in calling ourselves the ‘Great Wall of Iowa,’” said senior defender Anthe Nijziel.

Since the 1980′s, the Iowa field hockey team has been known to have a great defense. In 2018, that’s when the Hawkeyes nicknamed their group the great wall of Iowa.

“I think it started with the penalty corner unit, they were just like no goals, ‘Great Wall of Iowa,’” said Nijziel.

They’ve certainly earned that title stringing together six consecutive shut outs. It marks the fourth time in program history they’ve reached that mark, but first since 1993.

“Our defensive back three, even our midfielders and our goalkeeping is so solid,” explained Iowa field hockey head coach Lisa Cellucci. “First and foremost they stay so poised under pressure and they organized really well. They do that in practice and in every game,” she added.

The quick turnaround from the spring season could have gone two ways, but the Hawkeyes continue riding that momentum from last season’s Final Four appearance.

“I think we underestimate how talented we are. I don’t think we realize how good we are until we actually get these results,” said senior midfielder Ellie Holley.

The team said they put an emphasis on scoring to start the season and so far their 38 goals rank second in country.

“You can see it pays off with the amount of goals we score,” said Nijziel about Iowa’s offense.

In addition, they’ve had 13 different players find the back of the net.

“We’ve had the most balanced we’ve had in probably 10 years and that’s been fantastic. We have 11 fourth or fifth year players, so the experience is unbelievable. They’ve all stepped up at different moments,” said Cellucci.

The Hawks have taken down three ranked opponents and welcome sixth ranked Penn State to Iowa City this weekend. The team knows winning a matchup like this will help them separate themselves from the rest of the country, but they remain focused on their short term goals.

“We just play each game as it is. We’re not looking too far into the future or dwelling on the past, even though it’s been a really fun past. We kind of just take it each game it is,” said Holley.

The Hawkeyes host Penn State Friday and Saturday. Game time Friday is set for 6 P.M.

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