By Jordan Zuniga
After winning its first Big Ten game against Rutgers on Oct. 5, the Iowa soccer team (7-5-1) knew it could turn a big win into a big weekend. The Hawkeyes capitalized, taking down Maryland (7-5-2) 4-0 on Sunday.
It didn’t take long for Iowa to turn its hope of a big weekend into a reality; in the second minute of the match, a Maryland player deflected Natalie Winter’s free kick into the net for an own-goal to give Iowa a quick 1-0 advantage.
From that point on, the Hawkeyes were like sharks in the water smelling blood: utterly relentless.
Soon after the first goal, sophomore Olivia Fiegel had the ball at her feet around 10 yards out and drove it past Maryland’s diving goalkeeper to give the Hawkeyes a 2-0 lead.
Later in the first half, Hannah Drkulec took a shot that ricocheted off the post right to Devin Burns, who hammered it home to give Iowa a 3-0 first-half lead.
When the players met for halftime, the game felt well in hand. Not only were the Hawkeyes up by 3 goals, but they had also outshot the Terrapins 12-2. That showed in the second half, as it was mostly played by the ends of both team’s benches, with the Hawkeyes adding another goal early in the second half.
Sophomore midfielder Natalie Winters said ball movement was crucial for the Hawkeyes.
“We were possessing the ball in the final third and in their half,” she said. “I think that gave us a lot of opportunities to score and finish the ball.”
Having started the weekend in the Big Ten basement, walking away from the weekend with 6 points was huge for the Hawkeyes.
“We knew that we really needed these points,” Burns said. “If we didn’t get these points, we were going to be really scratching to get to the Big Ten Tournament.”
With the big 6-point weekend, the Hawkeyes jumped four places in the Big Ten standings and now are just two spots shy of a Big Ten Tournament berth.
Getting these wins at home was also significant for the Hawkeyes; this is the first time they have registered back-to-back wins at home against conference opponents since 2014.
“We have not been very good at home up until this weekend,” head coach Dave DiIanni said. “We challenged our girls to be a little more competitive at home and try to take care of points at home. To be able to get some goals, have two shutouts, and get everybody playing time was a perfect scenario for us.”
The victories sprang Iowa into relevance in the Big Ten, and the Hawkeyes hope their winning streak will travel with them as they head to Indiana next weekend.
Their first game will be in Bloomington at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Indiana. Then the Hawkeyes will travel up the road to West Lafayette to take on Purdue at 1 p.m. Oct. 15.