By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – An Iowa victory over Iowa State in any sport is significant, and cause for celebration.
Both schools take tremendous pride in having instate bragging rights, so emotions always run high when the Hawkeyes and Cyclones compete against each other, and that was certainly the case when the Iowa soccer team hosted Iowa State on Thursday.
Iowa hung on to win 2-1, and when the match ended, Iowa senior Courtney Powell hugged Iowa State goalkeeper Jordan Silkowitz on the field.
It isn’t often that a Hawkeye and a Cyclone share such an emotional embrace during the heat of the moment, but the circumstances surrounding Thursday’s match were unique to say the least.
Powell and Silkowitz used to be teammates at Iowa State and will be friends forever.
Powell, who is from LaPorte City, played her first four seasons at Iowa State where she started all 38 games during her sophomore and junior seasons. She was Iowa State’s team leader in both points (eight) and goals (four) as a junior in 2019.
So to lose her to the instate rival was a crushing blow that proved costly to Iowa State when Powell scored the first goal in Thursday’s match. It was also her first goal as a Hawkeye.
Silkowitz could’ve been resentful and avoided Powell after the match, but some things, like a friendship, are bigger than a sporting event.
Powell was all smiles after Thursday’s victory as she relished the moment.
But don’t let her smile fool you because the thrill of winning was tempered by her father not being there to share in the special moment.
Powell’s father passed away from Covid-19 in February, and the pain from his loss is something she carries with her every day. Even during those intense moments during a soccer match, Powell often thinks about her father, who was a longtime Hawkeye fan.
“I’ve been saying from the start, that first goal, and all the goals this season are going to be dedicated to my dad,” Powell said on the Big Ten Network after Thursday’s victory. “He’s just been my number one supporter, and it’s really a hard time right now with grieving.
“But soccer has been something to help me escape that grieving and kind of have a positive attitude.”
Courtney Powell transferred from Iowa State to play for @HawkeyeSoccer after her dad, a longtime Hawkeyes fan, died from COVID.
Now, watch what happened when Powell and the Hawkeyes faced her former team in the Cy-Hawk Series. pic.twitter.com/LCOHRTjmYM
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) August 27, 2021
Silkowitz had to be crushed after losing to her instate rival, and yet, she still reached out to Powell afterwards because it was the right and decent thing to do.
So much has been written and said about the bitter rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State, and there are times when emotions have boiled over during sporting events.
Fans from both schools also attack each other on social media, so it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong with the rivalry because there is a lot of hate and hostility.
But for a few briefs moments on Thursday, we saw another side of the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry, a side filled with love and respect for your opponent.
Powell and Silkowitz are no longer teammates, but they still share a mutual respect and admiration that will last forever. You could see that just from how they embraced.
“She came up to me and she was like, you had to do me dirty like that,” Powell said in reference to her scoring a goal. “But she’s such a great goalie. She’s going to do big things beyond college soccer. She will be a friend for life. She’s a genuine person, a beast of a goalkeeper.
“And getting to score on that good of a goalkeeper, my confidence is up, so it feels good.”
It’s just nice that Powell feels good again after what she has been through. Nobody will ever replace her father and his loss is something she now lives with every second of every day.
In 2020, Powell only played during the fall for Iowa State, opting out of the spring season.
She figured her college career was over after the fall of 2020, but then her father passed away and Powell wanted to honor him by being a Hawkeye for one season.
Soccer is a much-needed distraction for Powell, and brings joy to her life.
Iowa improved to 3-0 with Thursday’s victory, and the program under head coach Dave DiIanni has been on roll since about the midway point of last season.
The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten Tournament last season and returned a bulk of the roster.
Expectations are soaring and the addition of Powell as a graduate transfer has made a good team even better.
Thursday’s victory over Iowa State is a moment that Powell will cherish forever, along with the warm embrace from her former teammate afterwards.