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One-goal games are trend for Field Hawks, but it's not what they want

BY CODY GOODWIN | OCTOBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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More than half of Iowa’s field-hockey games have been decided by 1 goal, and head coach Tracey Griesbaum doesn’t like it.

“If you feel like you’re really outmatched, I understand [wanting to keep it close],” she said. “But with the games that we’ve recently had, that’s not been in the plan.”

The No. 11 Hawkeyes have been a part of some close finishes in their last three games.

They knocked in 2 goals in the final 10 minutes against No. 18 Ohio State for a 2-1 victory on Sept. 30. Junior Aubrey Coleman’s goal in sudden death pushed Iowa past Indiana on Oct. 5. And most recently, Louisville deflated the Hawkeyes with two late goals in a 2-1 win.

Seven of Iowa’s 12 regular-season matches have ended in a 1-goal difference. Iowa’s record in those games is 5-2. But looking deeper into the stats, a different story emerges about each game.

In the five games Iowa has won by a goal, the team outshot opponents 90-50. In comparison, the Hawkeyes are barely outshot when losing by a goal, 26-23.

The Black and Gold also garner more penalty corners in their close victories (45-32) and have surrendered just one extra when they lose the close ones (16-15).

The significance of the numbers show that Iowa is missing key opportunities while on the attack, and when they lose, they don’t go down easy.

“At the end of the game, you’re going to take a 1-goal win. Who cares at that point?” Griesbaum said. “But we don’t practice to win 1-0. We practice to win 4-0 … We’re not trying to make it dramatic.”

One item that concerns Griesbaum is the amount of missed opportunities when the Hawks are attacking. Iowa has put up 235 shots this season, with only 36 goals. That equates to them making only 15 percent of their shots.

In comparison, No. 9 Northwestern has taken fewer shots (218) but has more goals (57). That computes to 26 percent of shots taken going in.

What keeps the balls out of the goal for Iowa could be a number of factors. Great defending, impeccable goalkeeping, and lack of aggressiveness are just a few of the reasons.

The latter, said forward Corrine Allen, is something Iowa can definitely improve upon.

“If you have to dive for [the ball], then dive. We need to be more effective and take advantage of the opportunities,” the sophomore said. “We need more of an in-your-face kind of style.”

The Hawkeye’s defense has faced plenty of pressure this season, elevating its poise and giving the backline confidence. But if the offense can take care of its job, then the defense will be able to play with less pressure.

With two ranked opponents in No. 15 Drexel and No. 7 Penn State scheduled this weekend, it’ll be crucial for the Hawkeyes to maintain their composure on the defense. As the schedule gets harder, these 1-goal games will become more common.

Danielle Pierson said that, just maybe, these earlier close games have helped prepare them for the tougher games ahead.

“We can play really good defense so that [a 1-goal lead] matters,” Pierson said. “It gives us a lot confidence that we can hold a team back for a whole game.”


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