The Pennsylvania Connection

Oct. 5, 2005

Pennsylvania–the Keystone State. Home to the City of Brotherly Love. Where you can admire the Liberty Bell and walk the fields of Gettysburg.

It also is the home to four of Iowa’s eight freshmen field hockey players.

Roz Ellis, Melissa Helsel, Caitlin McCurdy, and Lissa Munley all hail from the state known for its revolutionary history, and all are major contributors to Iowa’s nationally ranked team.

Ellis, who is from Lewisburg, was a major force to her high school team. In her senior year, she scored 16 goals and had 17 assists. She was selected to the SVL first team both her junior and senior year and was also the Daily Item Player of the Year in 2004.

This year, Ellis has stepped in and made a name for herself. However six months ago, she wondered if she’d even have a chance to come into a game, let alone start. She underwent ACL surgery and has come back to start.

“The fact that I’m out there every day is a dream come true,” she said.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are the host team for the 2005 Big Ten Conference Field Hockey Championship, Nov. 4-6, at Grant Field on the UI campus.

Helsel, a goalkeeper from Elizabethtown, experienced her share of success in high school as well. In her senior year, she recorded 135 saves for a .860 save rate. She was twice voted to the Lancaster-Lebanon League All-Star team and also played for the Lanco Premier Club team. In three years, her overall record was 30-14-5 with 19 shutouts.

Helsel, along with freshmen Megan Heise, look to back up Munley and will continue to fight for the starting position throughout their Iowa careers.

Both McCurdy and Munley come from the same high school and bring the same intensity to the team. Their high school won back-to-back Class AA state titles in 2003 and 2004, going 26-0 in 2004. McCurdy was a first team all-State, all-Regional, and all-American selection both her junior and senior year. She was also a member of the all-Region team, attended the Olympic Development Camp three times, and scored the game winning point to earn the gold medal at the AAU Junior Olympics in 2003.

McCurdy has continued to grow at her new home. She’s scored four goals this season, but she’s most impressed with how she’s adjusted to her new surroundings.

“It’s been a great experience. I’ve matured as a person and as a player,” she said. “I forget that I’m not in Pennsylvania half the time.”

Perhaps the most impressive showing has come from Munley. However, looking at her high school numbers, it should come as no surprise. In her senior year, she had 94 saves and 18 shutouts, which improved her career totals to a .851 save percentage and .547 goals against average.

Already this year, Munley has stepped up and been a difference maker for the Hawkeyes. She’s recorded 41 saves, allowed only 14 goals, and has a goals against average of 1.4.

While they have adjusted well to their new surroundings, it doesn’t hurt to have people who are from your home state to share experiences with.

“It’s nice to be experiencing some of the same things as the other girls, including the long distance from home,” said Ellis. “It helps to have girls to carpool with for the long drive home.”

McCurdy agreed with her.

“It’s nice to have people to fall back on, but because of the quality of people here and the coaches, I’d be fine without them too,” said McCurdy. The coaches and surrounding people are what helped make Iowa seem like the best choice for McCurdy.

“I came here because I really wanted to work with the coaching staff. I think they are the best staff in the country. The academic and athletic support here is excellent. I get what I need for field hockey and to succeed in school,” she said.

Whatever their reason for making the nearly 15 hour trek from the land of Hershey chocolate to the land of corn, it’s safe to say these Hawkeyes are going to be making a difference for the next four years.

“So far it’s been amazing– like a dream come true,” said Ellis.