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Editor’s note: This is 46th in a series counting down the Top 50 moments in Iowa Hawkeyes women’s athletics history in the 50 days leading up to the 50th anniversary of Title IX in June.
Judith Davidson experienced some joy in Nov. 1984 in Chicago.
The Iowa field hockey head coach and her team’s departure was delayed, so the airline gave free tickets. That was just in time for Iowa’s upcoming foreign trip to England.
“Thank God,” Davidson remembers thinking. “Fundraising is over!”
The far bigger joy for the Hawkeyes, though, involved where they were going once the flight finally took off — the Final Four.
Along with it being Iowa field hockey’s first Final Four, it was the closest any Hawkeye women’s team had been to a national championship at that time.
"It was exciting for sure,“ Davidson told The Gazette. ”That’s what you work for. That’s what you try to build toward.“
After losing one game short of a Final Four bid in 1982 and 1983, the Hawkeyes broke through in 1984 with a 2-0 win over Northwestern — the same team that spoiled Iowa’s postseason hopes the year before.
Iowa shut out Temple, 2-0, in the semifinals despite three straight Temple penalty corners at one point to advance to its first national championship game.
“Our defense was like a brick wall,” Davidson said to the Daily Iowan after the game.
The Hawkeyes had their hands full the next day with their national championship opponent Old Dominion, though. An Iowa team that had never been to this stage before was about to face off against the reigning back-to-back NCAA champion.
“At the time, Old Dominion had several international players on their team,” Davidson told The Gazette. “They were very, very good. No question about it.”
Iowa hung with uber-talented Old Dominion for a while, going into halftime knotted at 1-1.
“I’m thinking that must have made them really mad,” Davidson said.
That’s because of what happened in the second half.
ODU scored four unanswered goals, handing Iowa a 5-1 loss in the national championship. ODU finished the game with a 35-11 advantage in shots on goal.
“They were the better team,” Davidson said.
While the 1984 trip ended with a loss, it was the beginning of a stretch between Davidson and the next head coach Beth Beglin of sustained postseason success. From 1984 to 1999, Iowa went to 10 Final Fours.
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