Iowa field hockey head coach Griesbaum recalls 150 wins


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Iowa’s field-hockey program doesn’t count games. The Hawkeyes place an emphasis on their roles and executing them well in the moment.

It makes sense, then, that head coach Tracey Griesbaum didn’t think much of her 150th win on Sept. 30. The exhilarating 2-1 victory over No. 16 Ohio State wasn’t anything more than another win to her. It just happened to double as a career milestone.

Griesbaum still hadn’t ruminated over the accomplishment even two days after the game; the tone of her initial answer made it seem as if she wouldn’t give it any thought at all.

“I haven’t spent any time thinking about it,” she said. “I really haven’t.”

Remembering the favorites

Plenty of fond memories have been created in the course of 150 wins. Griesbaum can’t single out one favorite, but can recall many memorable games during her 13-year tenure at Iowa.

“There’s a bunch,” she said. “You really remember the ones you had to sacrifice and work really hard to get.”

Griesbaum noted the three-consecutive Big Ten title games from 2006-2008. She remembered seeing Lauren Pfeiffer, only a sophomore at the time, put away both goals in ’06 to top Penn State, 2-1, for win No. 80.

Another sophomore, Jess Werley, shone a year later. Iowa downed Michigan by way of a 4-1 stomping in 2007. Werley tallied 2 late goals for the Hawks for win No. 97.

Pfeiffer was again crucial in Iowa’s three-peat, leading the Hawkeyes to a 2-1 overtime victory over Ohio State in ’08. Pfeiffer, then a senior, scored both goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to secure No. 113 for her head coach.

“It’s really, really hard to win it one time,” Griesbaum said. “Let alone three times in a row.”

Another memorable win came two games later. Iowa’s draw for the 2008 NCAA Tournament placed the Hawkeyes in East Lansing for the first two rounds. In order to reach the Final Four, Iowa had to beat the Spartans on their own turf, as well as Mother Nature.

“The game was suspended due to [blizzard-like conditions],” Griesbaum said. “We had to play the last 20 minutes on a Monday. It was absolutely crazy.”

With a 1-0 advantage, then-senior goalie Lissa Munley stretched to make a beautiful save, preserving win No. 115. That win also pushed Iowa into the NCAA Final Four.

‘It takes the whole team’

Upon the final whistle on Sept. 30, all of the Hawkeyes gathered around their bench, creating a semicircle around their head coach.

They clapped and cheered in commemoration of Griesbaum’s 150th victory. It meant a lot to the current roster of players, knowing they were a part of history.

During the celebration, associate head coach Lisa Cellucci handed a small bouquet of flowers to junior Aubrey Coleman, who then handed them to the head coach. Coleman, smiling wide, will remember that moment just as much as she’ll remember the game itself.

“The gifts were just tangible,” the junior said. “The actual meaning behind it was really special.”

The win coincided with Karli Johansen’s return to the Hawkeyes after her stint with the Canadian National Team.

“It was nice to come back and be a part of it,” Johansen said. “It felt really good.”

It can be argued that Johansen’s return symbolized what is known as the “Iowa Standard” — the idea that it takes the whole team to win each time Iowa takes the pitch.

Ask coach Griesbaum, and she’ll say No. 150, much like the previous 149, embodied every bit of that.

“It’s a game I know I’ll remember, not because of the 150 victories, but because we were at home, because it took the whole team,” she said. “I’ll remember it for the specific team and what we accomplished.”

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