Hawkeyes fall in Big Ten Tournament Championship


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At halftime, it looked like No. 20 Iowa was going to cruise to the program’s fourth Big Ten Tournament crown. But unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, field-hockey games last 70 minutes, not 35.

The first half featured 2 Iowa goals; the former was a highlight-reel score from first team All-Big Ten honoree Natalie Cafone.

On a free hit to restart the game, the sophomore wasted no time and started play herself after she got the go-ahead from the referee. Cafone penetrated the left side of the circle, never looking to pass while slicing through Spartan defenders and letting a backhand shot go that beat Molly Cassidy five-hole to put Iowa up 1-0 12:22 into the contest.

After the Hawkeyes stopped a few Michigan State penalty corners, they broke through thanks to Steph Norlander and Kelsey Mitchell. Norlander put a ball on net that the senior tipped up past Cassidy to give Iowa what seemed like a commanding 2-0 lead with less than five minutes before the intermission.

Just as Iowa dominated the first half, Michigan State owned the second, except it did so more than the Hawkeyes. The strong performance allowed the Spartans to pull out the Big Ten Tournament crown.

Fewer than 10 minutes into the period, Big Ten Tournament MVP Abby Barker netted her first goal of the afternoon when she received a pass from Heather Howie and slammed it past fifth year senior Kelsey Boyce to get the Spartans on the board.

At the 57:11 mark of the contest, Barker added to her case for the MVP by scoring off a penalty corner with assists from Kristen Henn and Katherine Jamieson.

Shortly after, Adelle Lever put the nail in the coffin of the Hawkeye season. The senior got a rebound and beat Boyce for the Spartans’ third and final goal of the match, securing the title and earning Michigan State an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We didn’t play a full 70 minutes today; the better team won today,” head coach Tracey Griesbaum said in a release. “We won the first half today, but we lost the game.”

Dani Hemeon had similar feelings.

“We weren’t working as much as a team the second half,” the first team all-Big Ten honoree said. “Things weren’t going our way, and we weren’t coming together and trying to work through the problems together. We just started trying to take on the whole team by ourselves. Although sometimes it seems like that’s the best option, it never works.”

Cafone and junior Hemeon were named to the all-tournament team following the afternoon’s contest.

The loss ends Iowa’s 2013 campaign, which saw them finish with a 13-8 record. Cafone finished with the lead in goals for the Hawkeyes with 22 scores in addition to 8 assist to lead the conference with 52 points. Hemeon was second in scoring and seventh in the league with 30 points.

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