IOWA CITY — There is a whole lot of magic within the 2019 Iowa women’s soccer team right now.
Twice in the last eight days, the Hawkeyes have been less than 30 seconds away from their match ending in a draw. In both instances, sophomore forward Samantha Tawharu stunned the opposition and maybe even her own team with a golden goal.
Just two little miracles in an Iowa season that may very well end up being the best in program history.
“Our team really pushes hard and we know that we have to go to the final minute,” Tawharu said after the Hawkeyes’ latest double overtime triumph, 2-1 over Ohio State, in the Big Ten Conference finale for both schools Sunday at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex. “We definitely try and make a statement of going full 90 minutes or whatever it takes, whether that is 110 or 90. We just go the full ride.”
Oct. 20 at Minnesota, it was a Tawharu header with 25 seconds left in the second overtime that beat the Gophers, 2-1. Sunday against Ohio State, the margin of error was even slimmer. Just 13 seconds from a draw, Iowa sophomore defender Sara Wheaton lofted a ball from the left corner into the penalty box. The ball appeared destined for an Ohio State defender, but the defender overran the ball and watched it hop over to Tawharu, who punched it in with nine ticks left.
“Part of us are like, ‘Oh wow, that is really cool, good for her,’” Iowa senior midfielder Isabella Blackman said. “But at the same time, it is like, ‘Oh wait, that is Sammy T.’ She is so good. We would not expect anything less from her.”
Iowa freshman forward Gianna Gourley opened the scoring with her fifth goal of the season in the 65th minute, but Marike Mousset tied the match in the 78th for Ohio State (4-9-4, 2-5-3).
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
After going scoreless in her previous eight matches, Tawharu’s two match-winners have the New Zealand native up to five goals this season, which ranks second on a team with a whopping 16 players who have scored at least one goal.
More importantly, the victory bumped the Hawkeyes’ record to 15-3-1 overall and 7-3-1 in the Big Ten. This is just the second time in program history that Iowa has won 15 matches in a season. The only other team to do it was the 2013 team (15-7-1), which needed two wins in the Big Ten tournament to get there and is the only Iowa team to reach the NCAA tournament.
The Hawkeyes have never won more than 15 matches in a season.
“It is pretty big,” said sophomore midfielder Josie Durr, a former Solon prep. “Just showing how the team has all come together and we are doing this. Something that has not been done in a long time or ever in the regular season. It is just a good showing of what we have put into this season.”
Iowa earned the No. 5 seed for the conference tournament and will travel to fourth-seeded Penn State (12-6-1, 8-3) next Sunday for a quarterfinal match. No team has won more Big Ten regular season (19) or tournament titles (7) in women’s soccer than the Nittany Lions.
“We’re excited,” Iowa Coach Dave DiIanni said. “This group has not been to Penn State yet this year. … Great team, very good program, good culture. I like this group going into Penn State, on the road. In the past, I think they have been a bit overwhelmed going into Penn State. I think this group has had some good results on the road, so we are a bit more battle-tested. On the same token, we know Penn State is a very good team. Going to be a great challenge. I think it is as good a 4/5 seed game as you can find in our conference. We will be excited to play it.”
AT UNIVERSITY OF IOWA SOCCER COMPLEX
Iowa 2, Ohio State 1 (2OT)
Goals — OSU: Marike Mousset (1); IOWA: Gianna Gourley (5), Samantha Tawharu (5). Assists — OSU: Kayla Fischer (4);IOWA: Samantha Tawharu (5), Skylar Alward (1), Sara Wheaton (1).