Field Hawks remain unbeaten at home with a 6-0 win over Ball State


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The goal for Iowa’s field hockey team has always been to protect Grant Field. The Hawkeyes don’t like the idea of an opposing team coming onto their home turf and winning. It wouldn’t feel right.

Senior Jessica Barnett made certain that the Field awks (12-4, 3-1 Big Ten) achieved their goal. Iowa’s captain scored the first two goals in a 6-0 rout of Ball State (3-14) on Sunday.

“Getting on the board early really helped us,” head coach Tracey Griesbaum said. “That was really positive to see, and the result was fabulous.”

Barnett’s first goal came just after the two-minute mark, striking on an unassisted 10-foot shot. The senior’s second goal came 20 minutes later, when teammates Geena Lesiak and Niki Schultheis assisted a fierce strike at the top of the circle off an Iowa penalty corner.

Her second goal put Iowa ahead 2-0 and also gave Barnett a team-leading 9 on the season.

“Geena had a great stop at the top of the circle,” Barnett said. “It was a straight shot.”

Iowa entered halftime with a 2-0 lead before exploding for four more goals in the second half. It was just the third time all season that the Hawks reached the 6-goal threshold offensively — they defeated Pacific, 6-0, on Sept. 9 and downed Missouri State, 10-0, on Sept. 2.

Barnett played more along the back line during the second half, which allowed other Hawkeyes to shine. Rather than seeing more veteran players step up to score, freshman Natalie Cafone took initiative and tacked on two goals of her own.

The first came on a pass from Dani Hemeon. Hemeon hit a wide-open Cafone in front of the goal for the easy tap in after making the Ball State defense bite during a pursuit on the left side of the field. Cafone then took her next goal all on her own, placing a blistering shot from an onerous angle.

Her two goals on Sunday gave the Fairfield, N.J., native five on the season, but she wasn’t finished. After Hemeon scored a goal of her own, pushing the lead to five, Cafone assisted sophomore Sara Watro in the game’s final goal, and the first of Watro’s career.

“This was a big weekend for us,” Cafone said. “It was really important for us [to get two wins this weekend]. We have a big weekend coming up next week.”

Sunday’s victory capped a weekend sweep for the Hawkeyes. They defeated Kent State on Oct. 20 at home, wrapping up Iowa’s nonconference schedule. Iowa finished 9-3 against foes outside the Big Ten.

But with the end of nonconference comes a crucial week of practice in preparation for next weekend, where Iowa hosts its final two conference games before the Big Ten Tournament. Griesbaum said it will be important for her team to keep focus and stay consistent.

“We need each player on each line to not get complacent,” the 13-year head coach said. “We’re going to be looking for a lot of competitiveness, starting tomorrow. We need to be hungry.”

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