No. 8 Hawkeyes set to host Central Michigan, No. 10 Stanford this weekend


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No. 8 Iowa field hockey is slated to host two matches this weekend at Grant Field. The first, at 3 p.m. today, is a matchup with Central Michigan, which owns a 2-2 record this season. The Hawkeyes will then face off with No. 10 Stanford at 1 p.m. Sept. 15.

Head coach Tracey Griesbaum’s squad moved up five spots in the most recent National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll released Tuesday. However, she said, the rankings don’t change the Hawkeyes’ approach to games, and she played down the effect the jump has on her team.

“We’re just staying really grounded; we haven’t really even talked to the team,” the 14-year head coach said. “I think we mentioned it [Tuesday] to them, but we also mentioned it’s a coaches’ poll, so it doesn’t really have anything to do with postseason or NCAA rankings … It means something, but it’s not going to change what we’re doing.”

Senior Aubrey Coleman echoed her coach’s sentiments about the polls, noting that the rankings give the Hawks a level of positive reinforcement and shows them that their hard work is paying dividends.

The jump in the rankings can be partially attributed to the team’s defensive play — which will play a key role in the results this weekend. Griesbaum specifically mentioned the play of senior backs Niki Schultheis and Karli Johansen, saying their experience gained while wearing the Black and Gold has allowed them to perform at such a high level to kick off their senior campaign.

Scouting the Opposition

Central Michigan started the year 2-0 but has lost its last two matchups, including a 3-2 loss to Lafayette, which the Hawkeyes shut out, 3-0, on Sept. 1. Three-time MAC Coach of the Year Cristy Freese is in her 28th season as head coach of the Chippewa program.

“Central Michigan is a great team, really well-coached — I have a lot of respect for them,” Griesbaum said. “We have to come out and play our game … I think we’re going to buy into working hard and sticking together.”

The Standford Cardinal carry a three-game winning streak into Iowa City — their only loss came in the first game of the season when they dropped a 2-1 decision in double overtime. Head coach Tara Danielson is in her fourth year at the helm of the squad and has led her squad to the NCAA Tournament each year as head coach. Most recently, goalkeeper Dulcie Davies and her team shut out Virginia Commonwealth, 2-0, in a contest Sept. 8 at home.

“Stanford has always been a tough competitor, an opponent that we really prepare for,” Coleman said.

Schultheis said both matches this weekend are very important because both opponents will present a tough challenge to Iowa’s strong start to the 2013.

“It’s very important that we stay disciplined — that we take each day at a time,” she said.

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