Hawkeyes face pivotal Big Ten match-up


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Since starting its season 1-5, the Iowa field-hockey team has won three out of its last four.

But the Hawkeyes’ slow start makes this weekend’s road contest pivotal.

Iowa (4-6, 1-1 Big Ten) will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 20 Ohio State (7-4, 1-1) on Oct. 11 at noon.

Just as the Hawkeyes know the sting of five losses coming by just one goal, the Buckeyes’ four losses this season have come by just one goal as well — three in overtime.

Similarly, Iowa’s last three wins have all come by one goal. Hawkeye head coach Tracey Griesbaum would like to think her young team is figuring out how to win the close ones, but she said she knows there are still inconsistencies.

“We’re proving it more,” she said. “But we need to be even more consistent with that.

“We’ve kind of paced ourselves a little bit — not purposely. But once the game’s over, we look back, and we’re like ‘Oh, we fought a little bit harder when we were down a goal.’ Something has to trigger us to start a little stronger — put the pressure on our opponent and have them worried about what we’re doing.”

Fortunately for Iowa, the Hawkeyes have been more successful in finding a spark on the road than in Iowa City this season. Iowa is 2-1 in games away from Grant Field.

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For whatever reason, senior Tricia Dean said there is an “unspoken intensity” when the Hawkeyes venture away from their home turf.

Ohio State has only given up a Big Ten-low 17 goals in 12 games this season. The Buckeyes also boast a speedy frontline and plenty of skill across all positions.

It’s clear Iowa may need more than an unspoken intensity going into this weekend’s game.

“We want to focus this week on individual and team defense,” Griesbaum said. “We feel like against [California on Sunday], we didn’t give up that many chances, but [the Golden Bears] got a lot of percentage out of their chances. We gave up like seven or eight circle entries, but they were successful on like six of them. We want to try to be more efficient and productive.”

Ensuring more touches for Griesbaum’s three seniors — Meghan Beamesderfer, Tricia Dean, and Jess Werley — is a crucial in achieving that efficiency and productivity. Griesbaum is specifically looking for Beamesderfer to be more aggressive on the offensive end of the field.

“[Beamesderfer] is sometimes hesitant because she’s a ‘defender’ and a little bit farther back,” Griesbaum said. “But we have been giving her the green light to go and take calculated and educated risks.”

Both Werley and Dean have worked on presenting themselves better to the ball in the midfield. Extra work on receiving skills has led to both of them getting more quality touches.

But the Hawkeyes also know they will need productivity from everyone — not just three seniors — to pull out a road victory against an opponent as tough as Ohio State.

“This is a pretty important game for us,” Dean said. “They’re a good team. They have a lot of good assets and qualities, but I think we can match them. If not, we can capitalize on their weaknesses.”

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