The Box Score: Field hockey still deadly


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The Iowa field-hockey team suffered its first home loss of the season Sunday, falling to a confounding Northwestern defense that held them to 1 goal for just the third time this season.

And while every loss is a setback, a quicker look inside the numbers reveals that the Black and Gold are still a powerful team with a lot of offensive weapons.

Let’s break it down.

Games After Losses:

The Black and Gold have been held to 1 goal in a game just three times this season and are 0-3 in those contests.

While a lack of offense has hurt it in the past, interim head coach Lisa Cellucci’s squad has always rebounded well after a loss.

After falling to top-ranked North Carolina 4-1 on Aug. 31, the Hawkeyes exploded for 4 goals against No. 6 Virginia, scratching out a 4-3 win, their second against a higher ranked opponent.

They did the same thing two weeks later at Pacific.  After losing on a penalty corner in overtime against No. 8 Stanford, Iowa came out the following afternoon and laid a 5-1 beat-down on the Pacific Tigers in Stockton, California.

While Pacific was without standout Ali Campos, the Hawks still emerged with a statement win on the road against a more than respectable Pacific team.

If this trend continues, Friday’s looming contest with No. 15 Michigan should foreshadow another offensive outburst from the Black and Gold.  

Ranking the Hawkeyes nationally — offense

Iowa shot into the national leaderboards last weekend after a pair of dominating performances over Indiana and Missouri State.

The team ranks fourth in the country in scoring average, posting an impressive 3.5 goals per game.

The Black and Gold are also sixth in the NCAA is scoring margin, with the average margin of victory coming in at an astounding 2.08.

In both scenarios, Iowa is the highest-ranked Big Ten school on either list, with Penn State the only other Big Ten program making an appearance.

The Hawks have posted 3 goals or better in five of their last six games, including an 8-0 thrashing of Ball State and a convincing 4-1 win over Indiana.

Junior Natalie Cafone and sophomore Steph Norlander serve as the 1-2 punch for Iowa’s main attack. 

Cafone, who finished last season first in the country in points per game, is on track to challenge for the position again this season, currently holding the No. 2 spot with 3.56 g per game.

Ranking the Hawkeyes nationally — defense

A lot of the attention the Black and Gold receives — and maybe deservedly so — stems from the team’s potent offense. 

However, Cellucci’s squad is also one that prides itself on stopping the opposition as well.

Goaltender Alex Pecora has made more than a few highlight reel saves so far this season.

The first-year starter ranks 26th in the country, holding her opponents to a very respectable 1.6 goals against average.

She earned her second shutout of the year following Iowa’s 8-0 win over Ball State. 

Backup keeper Katie Jones has also recorded a shutout, grabbing the clean sheet after the Hawks trounced Missouri State 7-0 in the freshman’s first start of the season.

Ranking the Big Ten:

So where do the Hawkeyes fall in their own conference? 

Well, all over the place, actually.  The Black and Gold are first in scoring margin and average in the Big Ten as well, which should come as no surprise given their national ranking. 

Iowa’s three shutouts ties it for second most in the conference, with Maryland, Indiana, and Penn State currently holding a three-way tie for first with four apiece.

The Hawkeyes rank fourth in goals against average as a team with 1.44 as well as first in total shots and shot/per game, and their 16 total goals against is second highest in the Big Ten. 

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

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