A learning experience pushes Field Hawks into season


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In order to play like the best, Iowa’s field-hockey team needed a taste of the best.

That’s exactly what the Hawkeyes got this past weekend with No. 2 North Carolina. A 5-0 defeat showed the Hawkeyes what it takes to compete with a three-time defending NCAA finalist.

Despite the score, head coach Tracey Griesbaum wasn’t dismayed with the overall play of her team. She said she was a little upset with how they began each game, but she wasn’t disappointed in the results.

“Going into [the Big Ten/ACC Challenge] every year, your goal is to win two games,” she said. “Beating Wake Forest was big and really vital for us to start off our season.”

The Tar Heels tend to take advantage of their opponent’s slow starts. Last fall, Carolina netted 43 goals in the first half of its games while only allowing the same number of shots to the opposition.

Sunday’s game against the Hawkeyes was no different; the Tar Heels scored 4 goals in the first half while allowing Iowa only 3 shots.

Griesbaum praised North Carolina for its style of play, saying it isn’t the kind of team that will let go of the throttle. But it also showed the Hawks the level of play they must attain to compete at the top of the rankings.

“We need to work a lot harder,” the head coach said. “It’s really unfortunate when you go into competition, and you realize your opponent is raising your level [of play]. That should never be the case.”

Griesbaum said her seniors took charge during Monday’s meeting before the women hit the weight room for a workout. They challenged the entire team, themselves included, to step up and work harder at practice.

The seniors talked about how they need to run harder, defend with more of a purpose, and tackle with meaning — without injuring their teammates, of course. The level of practice and drills will be amped up to replicate a game setting.

This way, when the Hawkeyes take the pitch again — their next game is at home against Missouri State at 1 p.m. Sept. 2 — they’ll have more of a “been there, done that” mindset.

“[This weekend] was definitely something to build upon because we didn’t come out of it 2-0,” Kelsey Mitchell said. She scored one of Iowa’s 3 goals this past weekend.

One issue the Black and Gold didn’t have was picking up the pace in the second half of either game.

The defense stiffened up, and the Hawkeyes were able to get more shots off on goal.

All three of their weekend goals came after halftime, and the Hawkeyes tallied 9 more saves in the latter half than they did in the first.

That was a definite positive for the squad, and one that didn’t go unnoticed.

“In the first half [of the first game], we worried too much about Wake Forest’s play and not really our own,” Corinne Allen said. “In the second half, we focused more on our game plan and how we needed to play.”

In terms of the goals for the rest of the year, Mitchell said, “[North Carolina’s style of play] is what we’re striving for.”

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