Brown leading Hawks defensively


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Caitlin Brown’s stat sheet is mostly filled with zeros.

She’s shot once in her entire career at Iowa. And the only other category that’s filled is minutes played.

Brown has been on the field for every minute this season. Only she and junior Emily Scott have done so, and despite the zeros on her stat sheet, she’s one of the most integral aspects of Iowa’s early success this season.

“She’s a great vocal leader. She’s always steps up and wins those 50/50 balls that are coming in,” teammate Anne Marie Thomas said. “She pretty much controls the field.”

Playing a lot of minutes isn’t new for Brown. In her freshman season, she saw the field for 1,756 minutes en route to winning the team’s newcomer award and earning Big Ten All-Freshman honors.

In her sophomore season, Brown led the team in minutes played, with 1,845 minutes in 21 games. She played every minute of Big Ten play and anchored a defense that ranked third in goals against average — 0.87 per game — and goals allowed with just 19 over the course of the season.

This season is much more of the same. The Hawks have garnered double digits in the win column with six games remaining. Their record is currently 10-3-0, and much of that is credited to the Hawkeyes defense.

The Hawks are fresh off their seventh shutout of the season and are a threat to break their school record of 10 shutouts in a season set by last season’s squad.

They are ranked third in goals allowed among Big Ten teams with 10 all season, fourth in goals against average, and first in shutouts.

Several factors have led to Brown’s ability to play the number of minutes she does.

“I think the goal of all of us coming in extremely fit, so that any of us are able to play as many minutes as needed,” Brown said. “Just all of us being on the same plane from a fitness standpoint.”

Of course, Brown’s position also helps her stay in the game longer than usual. Brown plays central defender. Rarely coming into the attacking half of the field — as shown by her shot total — she mostly stays back as the last line of defense other than the goalkeeper, whereas a midfielder or forward will roam around the entire field.

“As defenders, you don’t sub in as much as you might sub midfielders or attackers because you want that continuity,” Iowa head coach Ron Rainey said. “And we’ve been in some closer games this year so that has allowed our defenders to log a ton of minutes.”

Brown was also named a team captain along with Alex Melin at the start of the season. While the position hasn’t changed anything about her game per say, it has changed her mentality.

“For me I’d say it changed communication off the field more so,” Brown said. “Just connecting with all of my teammates and having a relationship where conversation is always open.”

But most insist that Brown has always been a leader for the team.

“She’s always been a thoughtful person on the field and encouraging on the field,” Rainey said. “I think she’s taken that to another level of communicating and letting people know when their doing things well and when they need to do things better.

“But she does it in way that I think her teammates really respect her because they see all the work she puts in day in and day out.”

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