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Backup Field Hawk goalie serves as the unsung hero in Merty's success

BY CODY GOODWIN | SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Before the Iowa field-hockey team takes the pitch against competition on game days, there’s a smaller rivalry that’s noticeable over by the goalie’s net.

The first athlete in goal is, arguably, one of the Big Ten’s best at the position. It’s senior Kathleen McGraw, the California native who’s collected four shutouts in nine games this season and has allowed the fewest goals in the conference, 12.

The fellow-senior who comes in after her is one of the reasons for McGraw’s success. Kelsey Boyce, the goalie behind McGraw, trains the Big Ten leader daily.

“A lot of our skill sets are opposite, so we can really help each other out,” McGraw said. “[Boyce] has been really supportive this whole time.”

Boyce’s name is rarely announced during an Iowa field hockey game. She’s only played in five matches during her tenure as a Hawkeye, and she’s come in to make a grand total of 9 saves while accumulating playing time that’s equivalent of three game halves.

But each day during practice, it would appear as if the two are equal. They go further than just pushing each other to get better — they can help one another perfect their own issues. Throw the stats out of the equation, and what’s left is two parts of a nearly perfect whole.

“We always joke that if you could take away our flaws and put both of our styles together, we’d make the perfect goalkeeper,” Boyce said. “I think we complement each other really well.”

McGraw’s particularly thankful for everything Boyce has done for her over the last four years they’ve worked together. What McGraw has struggled with has been Boyce’s strengths.

Boyce has helped McGraw with her balance and helping to close space while defending the net. McGraw has also needed some assistance on keeping her weight forward, and Boyce has helped her to make quick moves for easier saves.

Where normal athletes would look to a niche coach for guidance, McGraw looks to Boyce.

“If I’m struggling with it, she can bring a different perspective,” McGraw said of Boyce. “She can put it a different way than [assistant coach Lisa Cellucci] can, and she’s able to help me that way.”

“It’s really a give and take,” Boyce said.

The relationship between the two seniors goes further than the pitch — they’re best friends and roommates away from practice. They complement each other off the field just as much as they do on it.

One’s from the East, the other from the West, and both embody their geographic stereotypes. Californian McGraw is more laid-back and loose, while New Jersey native Boyce is eccentric and shows a bit more emotion. Head coach Tracey Griesbaum said it didn’t take much for the friendship to grow into what it is today.

They mesh well together. The connection they have has helped both of them progress dramatically on and off the field.

What may go unnoticed, though, is the effect the two have on the team. According to the head coach, this has been the greatest.

“It’s been very positive for the team, as a whole, to have both of them,” Griesbaum said. “They can both organize the defense, and have great skills in the net. It’s been awesome to have them both.”


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