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Momentum back with field hockey after Penn State victory

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | OCTOBER 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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A few weeks ago, things were beginning to look dire for the Iowa field-hockey team.

A once-dominant offense had grown stagnant in meeting several top-notch opponents, and a few injuries to some key players had prevented the Hawkeyes from progressing as far as interim head coach Lisa Cellucci would have liked.

What’s more, a string of three-straight conference losses, one of which to an unranked Michigan State squad, left Iowa’s RPI — the ranking that helps determine at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament — in a pretty rough state.

Fast-forward two weeks, however, and things could not be more different.

After following up a 4-2 win at Ohio State with a dramatic 4-0 shutout of No. 4 Penn State on Senior Day, the Iowa field-hockey team appears to be back on the rise. 

And not a moment too soon.

“[On Oct. 25 against Penn State], we played our best that we’ve played all year, so if we can repeat it again against Maryland, then I’ll believe it for real,” Cellucci said.  “Focus on the defensive end of the ball and a continued attack is what we are looking for.”

Adversity has affected the Hawkeyes all season. Now that they’ve handled their most recent and perhaps largest dose, the Black and Gold are better prepared for tournament season.

For Iowa, the feeling of losing was starting to get old.

“After we got through those two losses, we realized how it made us feel and how much better it felt to win,” freshman Mallory Lefkowitz said. “It was something we just had to get through before we could move on, and now that we have, I think we’re playing our best field hockey this year.”

So why the dramatic change? For one, it helps to have some of the most talented players in the country suiting up for the Hawkeyes every week.

And now that the Hawks have their confidence back, Cellucci and her team feel they can hang with anyone, regardless of what their record says.

“We have a young team. We only had one senior and one junior in our starting lineup against Penn State, so I think the confidence we got from that win was huge,” Cellucci said. “It’s something we’re going to try to use to our advantage.”

While a showdown with the No. 2 Terrapins will require a little bit more than boosted confidence, the Black and Gold feel they can hang with any team in the country.

After all, this is a team that knocked off a pair of top-ranked ACC teams before it faced its first conference opponent.

“Now that we’ve played a complete game for 70 minutes, as we did against Penn State, we have the confidence going forward to know that we can do it again,” junior Natalie Cafone said. 

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


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