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No. 15 Hawkeyes set to take on No. 19 Michigan and Missouri State

BY DANNY PAYNE | OCTOBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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The No. 15 Iowa field-hockey team has perhaps its most important game of the season this weekend in Ann Arbor. The Hawkeyes will bring their 5-4 record on the road for a matchup with No. 19 Michigan (5-5, 0-1).

Hawkeye players and coaches have called the game a must-win. Having dropped three out of its last four contests, including the Big Ten opener at Northwestern on Sept. 27, head coach Tracey Griesbaum’s squad needs to defeat the Wolverines to get on track in their league.

“It’s really big, especially since our backs are to the wall a little bit,” the 14-year head coach said. “We’re 0-1 in conference, so it’s huge.”

Michigan, coached by former Hawkeye Marcia Pankratz, has also been in a rut recently. Just like Iowa, the Wolverines also fell to No. 8 Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., and they have lost two out of their last three matches.

The Wolverine attack features the only student-athlete in the Big Ten that has more points on the season than Hawkeye Natalie Cafone. Rachel Mack leads the conference with 22 points, including 9 goals. For Iowa, the key to stopping Mack and the opposing offense is ball control and focus.

“The longer we have the ball, the less they have the ball,” senior Niki Schultheis said. “We can’t allow ourselves to have 10 seconds that we’re not paying attention … if you’re not paying attention for a span of 10 to 15 seconds, that’s when [the opponent] capitalizes.”

Iowa will get one of its top scorers back in the form of Stephanie Norlander for the first time since its 2-0 loss to then-10 Stanford on Sept. 15. The freshman was in Mendoza, Argentina, helping Team Canada win the bronze medal in the Pan American Cup from Sept. 21-28.

While Norlander enjoyed competing for her home country, she is happy to be back in the United States and prepared to help her team back on track towards their goal of a Big Ten championship.

“It’s definitely a game we have to win to keep our goals going,” the North Vancouver, British Columbia, native said. “It’s definitely a must-win.”

After their matchup with Michigan, Norlander and the Hawkeyes will make the trip back to Iowa City for a game with Missouri State (2-7) on Oct. 7. Iowa defeated the Bears in an exhibition match Aug. 25, 5-2. A pair of second half goals from senior Kelsey Mitchell highlighted that game for the Hawks.

Missouri State will be coming off a game with Kent State on Saturday afternoon. Going into their matchup with Kent State, the Bears are playing on the heels of their second win of the season. Head coach Gabby Gomez’s squad defeated St. Louis, 5-0, on Tuesday.

Oct. 7 will also be the last game in Iowa’s breast-cancer awareness week. The university’s volleyball team played its “pink” game Wednesday, and head coach Ron Rainey’s soccer squad will do so on Oct. 6.

“Obviously, anything we can do to raise awareness and bring it to people’s attention and play a pink game in honor of people who have battled and as well as to raise awareness for anything that people can do to prevent it from occurring,” Griesbaum said. “It’s a big deal.”


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