Iowa field hockey to take on the Friars

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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No. 15 Iowa jumped into the top 20 this week, and it will face Providence (1-3) at 1 p.m. today in Providence, R.I.

Through the first four games of this 2011 season, the Hawkeyes (3-1) have equaled their victory total from last year. A 2-0 loss to No. 1 North Carolina is Iowa’s only loss so far this season.

It took the Hawkeyes nine games in 2010 to pick up their third win of the year, and that edition of the team ended up finishing the season with a 3-14 (0-6 Big Ten) record.

“It feels a little different from last year,” head coach Tracey Griesbaum said. “I can’t speak enough about every single person on this team. We are a new team, but there are a lot of returners. The work they’ve done in the past nine months is starting to pay off now, and I’m really happy for them.”

The Hawkeyes lack a conventional “superstar” player, though, and they have instead relied on spreading the ball around the field. Seven different players have scored on the season — including five different players in a 7-3 win over then-No. 37 Kent State on Sept. 2.

“It’s not a person we’re trying to get the ball to; it’s an area on the field or a reading of the defense, and just putting the ball into a space for who is there,” Griesbaum said. “That’s what makes us hard to defend … we’re very balanced, and I think that’s what I’m enjoying about this team.

“We don’t have superstars, and we don’t have anyone who is at a deficit.”

Iowa has knocked off three ranked teams: then-No. 20 Wake Forest, then-No. 36 UMass, and then-No. 37 Kent State. The squad also took down then-No. 24 Louisville in a preseason exhibition game, all en route to its first top-20 ranking of the season.

“We need to really rely on trusting every player,” Griesbaum said. “They have a lot to do individually … our sport is really demanding, [so] they can’t just not take care of themselves and their bodies. We’re going to repeat everything, not change a lot, and just crank it up.”

The Hawkeyes will also take on Brown (1-1) at noon on Saturday in Providence. Iowa handed the Brown Bears a 5-0 loss in Iowa City in 2010, but Brown received votes in the 2011 National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll after defeating California-Davis on Sept. 4. Brown’s loss came against No. 12 New Hampshire, 5-0, on Sept. 2.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves, or we might fall,” junior Geena Lesiak said. “We need to take every game for what it is and not underestimate any opponent. We have a lot to gain this season still, and it’s still early.”

— by Nick Szafranski

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