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No. 13 Iowa field hockey claims 4-2 victory over No. 18 Indiana

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | OCTOBER 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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You've probably heard of the "Billy Goat Curse" or the "Curse of the Bambino."

It's less likely that you've heard of the Iowa field-hockey team's "Senior Day Curse."

The final home game of the season is traditionally recognized as a day to celebrate and recognize the seniors on a team. The Hawkeyes have historically struggled when it comes to winning on Senior Day; the team hasn't won on its celebratory day since 2006, when it beat Northwestern, 3-1. Three-time captain Becca Spengler, Iowa's lone senior, said she didn't remember the team winning on Senior Day in her tenure.

"A couple years ago, I said I wasn't going to have Senior Day ever," head coach Tracey Griesbaum said. "I really seriously contemplated that. It was a little bitter because last weekend we beat Ohio State on [the Buckeyes'] Senior Day, and then we realized Indiana could come here and have that same emotional backing and do the same thing."

But No. 13 Iowa (11-3, 3-2 Big Ten) ended the so-called curse with its 4-2 win over No. 18 Indiana (8-5, 2-3) on Oct. 15.

It looked at first as if the curse would continue. Indiana's Brenna Moeljadi scored on a corner just 1:49 into the game.

"It was a bouncy ball, which is hard to defend," Spengler said.

But the team's resiliency was impressive, she said.

"Our team needed to respond, and we did," said Spengler, a three-time captain. "It was really good for our team to rally and to continue to rally throughout the first and second half."

The Hawkeyes' response came at the 16-minute mark in the form of a Sarah Drake chip-in on a corner.

"It has been something we have been really working on," the junior midfielder, said. "We set ourselves up for success by drawing them to one side so that we would open up the spot [out wide]. I just dove for the ball."

Junior Jessica Barnett added another Iowa goal 13 minutes later after splitting the defense and firing a shot between the goalkeeper's legs. Three minutes after Moeljadi evened the score at 2, Drake fired back with her second goal. Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell contributed the Hawkeyes' fourth goal of the afternoon with four minutes left to play.

"We were maintaining possession in the front field a lot better," Drake said. "It felt really good to string together and be aggressive towards goal."

The Hawkeyes' win in the final home game of the season was not only a curse-ending win, it could be very important to the fortunes of the squad in Big Ten play. The win put Iowa at 3-2 in the conference with one game remaining. The Hawkeyes will head to Evanston, Ill., to take on No. 17 Northwestern for their last conference game, which will have big implications in the seeding for the Big Ten Tournament.

"We have to finish out and beat Northwestern," Drake said. "We will be in pretty good standing for the goals we set in the beginning of the season, where we wanted to be [in the top half] in the Big Ten conference leading into the tournament."


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