Iowa field hockey ends its regular season with overtime victory over Northwestern


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Iowa’s Sarah Drake had no idea where the ball was going to land. She was more focused about redirecting it in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Karli Johansen wound up and placed the ball right on Drake’s stick. The ball ricocheted off, nicked Northwestern defender Charlotte Martin, and flew into the goal.

The overtime score, which was credited to Drake, completed a 3-2 comeback for No. 12 Iowa (13-5, 4-2), handing No. 8 Northwestern (16-3, 4-2) just its third loss of the season.

“I knew I had to keep the ball alive when Karli threw it into the circle,” Drake said. “I just tried to distract the goalkeeper and my defender, and the ball went into the net.”

The Hawkeyes were down, 2-0, to the Wildcats 10 minutes into the second half. Northwestern, known for its potent offensive attack, had both of its goals on just four shots at that point. Iowa’s morale was seemingly low, and the Northwestern defense frustrated the Hawkeyes for much of the game.

Iowa’s own offense couldn’t get clear penetration all game until a counterattack in the 45th minute caught Northwestern off guard. Senior Jessica Barnett carried the ball downfield and slid it past the opposing back line to freshman standout Natalie Cafone.

Cafone maneuvered clear of the goalie and scored the first Iowa goal, beginning the march back for Iowa’s sixth come-from-behind victory this season.

“We really needed to get on the board,” the freshman said. “We planned on leaving everything on the field. It was Senior Day, so we wanted to get the win for our seniors.”

While a freshman broke Iowa’s scoring drought, senior Drake took over from there on in, scoring the latter two goals.

Drake’s first goal came just over two minutes after Cafone’s. Her physicality helped her fight through a stingy Northwestern defense, creating enough space for the equalizing goal. Drake’s second goal came during the sudden-death extra period.

But with the win came a lot more than just the end of the regular season. Iowa played the role of spoiler during Sunday’s victory, knocking Northwestern from a possible No. 1 overall seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament.

The victory also kept the Wildcats from sharing the Big Ten regular-season title with Penn State and snapped an eight-game Northwestern winning streak. But head coach Tracey Griesbaum said momentum was the biggest benefit from the win.

“I thought we played a complete game,” she said. “That was something we had been looking for, stringing two halves together. I’d say it was just a bonus we got to play a bit of overtime.”

The statement made by Iowa — it was the Hawkeyes’ first victory over a top-10 team since Nov. 6, 2008 — was more than a win that will send ripples through the conference. Instead, it was a game solely for themselves, proving that they can beat the nation’s top teams.

“It’s really important,” Griesbaum said. “We now know that we can play at this high level, and for longer stretches than we had throughout the season … We needed this win.”

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