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Iowa prepped to begin home stand

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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After a pair of road trips that have taken it across the country, the Iowa field-hockey team will finally have a chance to continue its pursuit of a Big Ten title at home, beginning a six-game home stand this weekend.

The Hawkeyes, who have raced out to a 5-2 record, will play host to Indiana at 2:30 p.m. today at Grant Field before regrouping and meeting Missouri Valley contender Missouri State on Sept. 28.

“The girls have been tired a little bit as of late, so we’re happy to be home for at least three weeks,” interim head coach Lisa Cellucci said.  “It’s a relief to just able able to have a normal sleep schedule and a normal routine for once.”

The Hawks’ first home game of the season came on Sept. 4, a 4-3 upset win over No. 6 Virginia. That win moved the Hawkeyes to 134-42 in program history on home turf.

Indiana comes into Iowa City riding one of the most statistically dominant nonconference seasons in program history.

Led by a stingy defense, the Hoosiers scoring margin of 2.57 is tops in the Big Ten, and Indiana also has four shutouts.

Goalkeeper Maggie Olson has been a rock in net for the Hoosiers, posting a stellar .875 save percentage through all seven starts.

The Hoosiers present a unique challenge for Cafone and her teammates.  Despite finishing 9-10 in 2013 with just one conference win, Indiana has been taking the conference by storm, screaming out to a 7-0 start.

And while the Hoosiers’ status as a legitimate contender has not yet been tested by conference play, the Black and Gold aren’t taking them lightly.

“We’ve played a tough schedule so far this year, so I feel we’re prepared for anything,” sophomore Steph Norlander said.  “I think no matter who we’re playing, we’re focused and ready to go.”

Indiana brings one of the stingiest defenses in the country, leading the Big Ten in shutouts, goals-against average, and total goals allowed, giving up just 4 through seven games.

Thankfully for the Hawks, they boast one of the best forward lines the conference has to offer, with Big Ten scoring leader Cafone, Norlander, and senior Dani Hemeon combining for 17 goals through their first seven contests.

However, the Hoosiers are not without stars of their own. 

Senior Audra Heilman tallied 10 goals for the Crimson and White last year, the sixth best total in program history. She has 9 in seven games this year.

Iowa’s star-studded offense will be pitted against Heilman and the shutdown specialists from Bloomington as Iowa tries to begin its Big Ten home slate on a positive note.

“Audra, Syd [Supica], and Kate Barber are three huge players for them,” Cafone said. “And we know we need to focus on them and shut them down if we want to win.”


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