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Revenge motivates field hockey

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | NOVEMBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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Revenge is a dish best served cold, and starting today, the Iowa field-hockey team will try to open up a chill buffet.

The Black and Gold enter the first round of this year’s Big Ten Tournament with payback on their minds, facing off in the first round against a Northwestern team that upset the Hawks at home less than a month ago.

The 3-1 defeat on Oct. 5 stunned the Hawks and a left a bitter taste in their mouths. Luckily for them, a chance at redemption is waiting for them in the first round.

“We couldn’t have played worse last time we played them,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We’ve made a lot of adjustments since, so I think our physicality and our speed match up well against them in the first game.”

It’s true — the Hawks are a very different looking team from the one that failed to generate enough quality scoring chances against the Wildcats last time around. 

Some shuffling of the midfield line and the return of a few key pieces from injury has Cellucci confident this time around won’t simply be a repeat of the team’s last meeting.

“Now with the changes we’ve made with our outside-mids, we have the ability to really run out and utilize our speed in those areas,” Cellucci said. “We’ve tweaked the back field a bit with how we’re outletting as well, which was another thing holding us back.”

And while all the personnel adjustments are sure to carry weight for the Hawks, there’s no substitute for motivation, something the they have in spades. 

The loss to Northwestern triggered a downward spin that included three-straight conference losses. Now, with the ultimate prize in sight, Iowa has a chance to right the ship when it really counts.

“We know last time against Northwestern was definitely not our best game, so we’re really happy about the matchup and the clean slate to start off with,” senior Dani Hemeon said. 

Hemeon, now in her fourth and final year with the team, was also present at another game the Black and Gold are looking to pay back this weekend as well: their 3-2 loss to Michigan State in last year’s Big Ten Tournament championship game.

“That loss definitely stings, but I think knowing what it takes and what it’s like to get there are good things for us,” Hemeon said. “There’s still a lot of people on this steam who were there last year and know what it’s like to lose, so we know what it takes to win, too.”

Quite a few things would have to go right for Iowa and Michigan State to face off in the tournament again this year. And while the desire is there, the Hawkeyes know better than to get ahead of themselves.

In a deep tournament such as the Big Ten championship, taking any opponent lightly could come back to haunt the team in a huge way.

“Regardless of the matchups, any team you play in a tournament like this is going to be a quality team,” goalkeeper Alex Pecora said. “Every team is good enough to win, so you really have to take things one step at a time.”

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


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