Nijziel of Iowa Field Hockey and Cellucci Take Top Big Ten Conference Honors

Nijziel was named the Big Ten’s best defenseman and player on Wednesday. Cellucci has been dubbed the best coach in the league.

Hannah kinson

Iowa defenseman Anthe Nijziel passes the ball during the second quarter of a field hockey game against Maryland on Sunday April 4, 2021 at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 3-0.

Iowa field hockey defenseman Anthe Nijziel was named Big Ten player of the year and Big Ten defensive player of the year for the second straight season on Wednesday morning.

Nijziel had previously received the Big Ten Conference Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2020.

Iowa field hockey head coach Lisa Cellucci also won league honors in 2021. The conference unanimously named her Big Ten Coach of the Year on Nov. 3.

Five other Hawkeyes were also recognized by the league. Senior Maddy Murphy was named to the All-Big Ten’s first team. Goalkeeper Grace McGuire and defensemen Lokke Stribos and Esme Gibson received second-team All-Big Ten honors. Midfielder Nikki Freeman was the recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship award from Iowa.

Nijziel is the third player in Big Ten history to win the league’s Player of the Year award twice in a row. The only other Hawkeye to twice win the Big Ten Player of the Year award is Kristy Gleason, who did so in 1992-93.

Cellucci has won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award for the past three seasons. This year, she guided the Hawkeyes to a 16-1 regular season record. Iowa won their first 16 games of the year before suffering a 2-1 loss to No.5 Northwestern in the Big Ten regular season finale. In total, Iowa has nine regular season wins over ranked enemies in 2021.

Despite their recent loss to the Wildcats, the Hawkeyes are still the best team in the country, according to this week’s National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll. Iowa was also good enough to win the first seed in this year’s Big Ten field hockey tournament.

Nijziel, Cellucci and the Iowa field hockey team have recorded the 11 best shutouts in the NCAA this season. In an eight-game streak in September, the Hawkeyes have not conceded a goal.

McGuire has been a vital cog in Iowa’s defense throughout the season. The Missourian led the Big Ten in goals against average, allowing opponents to score just 0.52 times per game. His save percentage of 81.2 also topped the conference standings in 2021.

McGuire allowed nine goals in 1,035 minutes of action, recording 39 saves.

Nijziel hasn’t exclusively helped McGuire and the Hawkeye defense this season. Nijziel was at times the engine that drove Iowa’s offense this year, racking up seven goals and 10 assists. Three of Nijziel’s goals were winners.

Nijziel and the Hawkeyes will be back in action Nov. 5 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Iowa’s opponent has yet to be determined as the Big Ten field hockey tournament quarterfinals are not over.

Iowa received a pass in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament because the Hawkeyes are the seed of the group.

Iowa will face the winner of Thursday’s game between Michigan’s No.4 and Northwestern No.5. The Hawkeyes’ first game of the tournament kicks off Friday at 1 p.m. The Iowa Tournament Opening Contest will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

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