Iowa field hockey ready for first-round NCAA matchup

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa field hockey team reached the 2008 Final Four before falling to Maryland in double overtime.

The Hawkeyes, ranked No. 12 in the nation, returned to the NCAA Tournament this season — and as luck would have it, Iowa will take on the Terrapins Saturday for the first time since their Final Four battle.

The Black and Gold (15-4) will travel to College Park, Md., to play Maryland (15-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Senior midfielder Becca Spengler, the only remaining player from the Final Four squad, said she believes the Hawkeyes' youth won't hold them back from success.

"There is such an excitement behind this weekend," Spengler said. "Lack of experience doesn't play a part; we've grown over the year as a team."

While the lack of experience may not pose a problem for the enthusiastic Hawkeyes, head coach Tracey Griesbaum said traveling to the home turf of one of the nation's best teams may be a disadvantage. The Terrapins play equally well at home as they do on the road; they went 8-2 in College Park this season.

"They have somewhat of an advantage, because they play on that field every single day," Griesbaum said. "But it's no different from any other game we prepare for. They have a really strong tradition and have had a lot of success over the last decade and a half. They have a lot of talent and have a great home record, but they're human."

While the matchup in the Final Four game three years ago is likely the most memorable game between the Hawkeyes and Terrapins, the two teams have had a competitive history. The squads have met 12 times in their history, five times in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland is ranked fourth on the strength of its offense; the Terrapins have outscored their opponents, 73-31.

But despite the seemingly overwhelming statistics, Spengler is still confident in the coaches' game plan.

"We match up really well," Spengler said. "We can match their speed, our defense, and our attack."
"There's a lot of excitement going into the game," she said. "I think that's really positive for us.

We're really looking forward to playing [Maryland] and putting our product out on the field in the NCAA Tournament that we have worked so hard to get to."

— by Nick Szafranski

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