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Field hockey to clash with Michigan State

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | OCTOBER 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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Today’s tilt with Michigan State holds a little extra anticipation for the Iowa field-hockey team.

Not because the Hawks have lost their last two Big Ten matchups at home by a combined score of 6-2 and must now go on the road.

And not just because junior Natalie Cafone is just 2 goals away from breaking into the Top 10 in career goals for an Iowa player.

No, when Iowa rolls into East Lansing this afternoon, it will be the Hawks’ first meeting with the Spartans since Michigan State’s thrilling comeback win over the Black and Gold in last year’s Big Ten title game. 

And while the game is sure to be an emotional one for both sides, there is no shortage of confidence on the Iowa roster. 

“Big-time game for us for sure,” sophomore Chandler Ackers said. “They’re not going to win.  We’re going to kill them, for sure.”

Acker’s vote of confidence comes at a rather tumultuous time for the Hawkeyes, who have lost two out of their last three games, all at home. And while the thought of trying to break out of a slump on the road may seem daunting, interim head coach Lisa Cellucci feels her team is more than up for the challenge.

“We play very well on the road and typically have the last couple of years, so I’m excited to head out there,” Cellucci said.  “It’s going to be a different environment from the last few weeks, and I think the team will be very focused.”

And while Cellucci knows a win is a win, memories of the last time these two teams met are still fresh in her mind. 

“We’re just trying to get another win against a conference opponent, but I think everyone remembers that game,” she said.  “We had a 2-goal lead and lost it late in the second half, so we really want on focus on getting a win.”

Defensively, Iowa has had problems in its last two losses, giving up 3 goals in two-straight games for the first time all season.

The Black and Gold were also held to just 2 combined goals for in two games against Northwestern and Michigan, another season low.

Cellucci knows the talent level of her forward corps is enough to help them break out of their mini slump, so it is the defensive side that she is focused on improving. 

“Our overall defensive presence in the two games we lost was a big factor in the outcome,” she said. “So it’s obviously something that needs to be better and something we’ve been working on all week.”

Sophomore right back Jessy Silfer, who has played in every game so far since coming to Iowa as a freshman last season, has been a stalwart defensive presence this year for the Hawks.

She knows as a well as anybody that to beat a Big Ten opponent, you have to key in on the stars.

“Like anything else I think we’re going to have to mark their stars,” Silfer said.  “A girl like Abby Barker, who was their MVP last year, is someone we’re going to have to concentrate on.”


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