Field hockey hungry to start conference play


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

This is when the fun begins.

After three weeks and six nonconference contests, the No. 9 Iowa field-hockey team is set to kick off its Big Ten schedule this weekend when it they travels to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on conference newcomers Rutgers.

“Nonconference play is great preparation considering how tough of a schedule we played, but Big Ten play is a whole new season for us,” interim head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We’re just trying to go after it one game at a time.”

Not to suggest that the Black and Gold have been lax toward their nonconference opponents thus far. Far from it, actually.

But there is no denying the air and anticipation in the team surrounding the beginning of conference play.

“It really is the most important part of the season, so I think it’s always in the back of our minds when we get out on the field,” senior Dani Hemeon said. “We know that we need to start off really strong with a win this season. Winning a Big Ten title is always our goal.”

And with a new season comes a new-look Big Ten. With the addition of Sunday’s opponent Rutgers as well as perennial NCAA powerhouse Maryland, the Big Ten will now feature nine teams instead of seven.

It’s a change the Hawkeyes have been preparing for all summer.

“We’ve played Maryland a ton in the NCAA Tournament so we’re pretty familiar with them,” Cellucci said. “Rutgers, on the other hand, we haven’t played in years, but they play a very similar style to some of the other teams in the conference, so we feel prepared for anything.”

And while Maryland’s pedigree (eight national championships) speaks for itself, the Scarlet Knights may face a somewhat more rocky start to life in the Big Ten.

Despite a bounce-back year in 2013 that saw Rutgers go 9-9, the Knights have not finished with a winning record since 2008, something third-year head coach Meredith Long has worked to correct.
But despite their opponent’s shortcomings, the Hawkeyes will not take anyone lightly.

“With the way the Big Ten rankings and seedings work, all these games matter,” sophomore Jessy Silfer said. “This year, the team that gets ranked last doesn’t make the cut, so we definitely want to make sure we finish as high as possible.”

And although Iowa and Rutgers haven’t met in years, the Black and Gold are confident that their tough preseason schedule has prepared them well enough for anything the Knights could throw at them.

“Already, we’ve played some tough teams that we’re not used to seeing, like [Virginia] and been successful, so I definitely think the way our coaching staff has prepared us, we’ll be just fine,” Silfer said.

That coaching staff, while it may look radically different from a year ago, has nevertheless set up the Hawks for potential success.

And while former head coach Tracey Griesbaum is no longer behind the bench, her mentality and memory is fresh in the minds of her former players.

“Preparation breeds confidence,” Silfer said. “That’s something Tracey instilled in us, and we’ve been carrying on in her legacy since.”

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa field-hockey team.

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.