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Field Hawks displayed consistency through their fall campaign

BY CODY GOODWIN | NOVEMBER 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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Seventh-ranked Virginia plugged the game-winning goal of the Nov. 10 field-hockey matchup against Iowa in the 60th minute.

Senior captain Jessica Barnett called it a “stab in the heart,” as the goal not only ended Iowa’s season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, it also brought a halt to the senior’s Black and Gold career.

“It’s sad to put four years into something and then realize that now, it’s over,” Barnett said.

The result of their final game was a crushing 3-2 loss at the hands of the Cavaliers. But a deeper look will show the loss served as an apt theme for the Iowa field-hockey team’s 2012 campaign — at least in the eyes of its head coach.

Head coach Tracey Griesbaum said consistency defined a lot of the season. The Hawks maintained a steady position from the beginning of the fall. They began the season ranked 12th and finished 14th. Their RPI fluctuated anywhere from 10th to 14th throughout the season, ending in the 11th spot.

The team reached some goals, their coach said, but, much like their final game, the Hawkeyes fell short on more occasions than they would have liked.

“We were so close,” Griesbaum said. “But we were so far, too.”

The two bigger goals of which Griesbaum spoke were winning a Big Ten championship, as well as making it to the NCAA quarterfinals. The team met neither of them, meaning the Hawkeyes didn’t improve from where they ended in 2011.

But they made smaller strides, which the team will recognize when it reflects. They came within a goal of downing eventual Big Ten champions Penn State in the league tournament semifinals. The Hawks were within a goal of defeating Virginia to advance to the NCAA quarters.

Iowa was also one regular season conference win away from earning a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, a feat that’s evaded Iowa since the 2004 season.

“We were right there, and we stayed consistent,” Griesbaum said. “But I would’ve liked to have seen a little surge the last few weeks of the season.”

Off-season workouts will play a role for the Hawkeyes as they prepare for next fall. Tough conditioning and a strong emphasis on the details are on the itinerary.

What they can’t avoid, though, is the loss of the six graduating seniors — Barnett, Sarah Drake, Geena Lesiak, Kathleen McGraw, Kelsey Boyce, and Sarah Pedrick. The Hawks are losing a combined 10 All-Big Ten honors, seven West Region All-Americans, and an All-American among their six seniors.

The seemingly big void will hard to fill, but that’s not how Griesbaum sees it. Iowa lost just one senior from the 2011 season and ended up in the exact same spot. The Hawks will need other players to step up in order to improve.

“You can’t be someone that you’re not,” she said. “I’m looking at it as all the returners that we have, have to be better.”

The 13-year head coach didn’t mention any names when asked about next season’s captains. She simply said everybody will need to make strides in the offseason in order to improve from where they finished this year.

Dani Hemeon, who led the Hawks with 11 goals this year, is up for the challenge. The sophomore said she felt badly because she couldn’t help the seniors get an NCAA win. But next year is a brand new year, and it began on Nov. 10, when that 60th-minute goal crossed the line.

“Everybody on this team is a leader,” Hemeon said. “I’ve lived through it for two years. I’ll be able to step up with my skills, and vocally, and hopefully be that person that’s leading through example.”


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