The Box Score: Field hockey maintains dominance


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With its latest statement win over Penn State on Oct. 25, the Iowa field-hockey team has just one game left before it embarks on another run at the Big Ten Tournament championship in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

It’s familiar territory for the Black and Gold, who went on an incredible run all the way to the tournament championship before falling to Michigan State in 2013.

But how does this year’s squad stack up against last season’s runner-up?  

Total Goals – 2013: 69 (1st in Big Ten), 2014: 53 (2nd in Big Ten)

Unless Maryland is forced to play without a goaltender against Iowa on Saturday, it’s not likely that this year’s Hawks surpass their league-best goals mark from a year ago.

Nevertheless, the numbers say Iowa is still pretty dominant at finding the back of the net.
Junior Natalie Cafone picked up where she left off after a historic season in 2013, leading the Hawkeyes in scoring again this season with 18 goals and 42 points through 16 starts this season.

And although senior captain Dani Hemeon has seen her goal production slip from a 20-goal campaign in 2013 to just 7 this season, sophomore Steph Norlander has been more than adequate at sparking offense, doubling her offensive output from a breakout freshman year with 15 goals in 2014.

The Hawks have struggled with balancing their attack at times this season; however, they still possess enough talent up front to go toe to toe with anyone in the Big Ten.

Shots per game – 2013: 14.57 (3rd in Big Ten), 2014: 15.88 (3rd in Big Ten)

Because field hockey is too fast a game to accurately or effectively measure time of possession, shots per game serves as a useful proxy for measuring ball possession. 

After all, you’ve got to have the ball before you can shoot it, right?

And while Iowa’s scoring may be down slightly from last year, it’s shooting the ball more than ever.
Averaging close to 16 shots a game, only conference powerhouses Penn State and Maryland have thrown more shots on goal the Hawkeyes in 2014. 

Not surprisingly, Cafone has made the most of those opportunities, owning a team-high .286 shooting percentage in 2014. 

A second-half team, Iowa has managed a staggering 146 shots in the second half this season, while allowing just 85. 

Goals allowed per game – 2013: 1.67 (3rd in Big Ten), 2014: 1.50 (4th in the Big Ten)

The Black and Gold lost the services of goalkeeper Kelsey Boyce after the talented backstop graduated in 2013. 

And while goalkeeping may have been a question mark going into this year, sophomore Alex Pecora hasn’t missed a beat in net for the Hawkeyes.

The first-year starter and New Jersey native is the owner of a 10-5 record as well as a sparkling 1.61 goals against average through 15 games this season.

Not bad for someone who only started one game in 2013.

Freshman Katie Jones was perfect when called upon this year as well, posting a 7-0 shutout in her only start of the year, against Missouri State on Sept. 28.

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

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