Aug. 13, 2008
The 2008 Iowa Field Hockey team is looking to build on a very successful 2007 season that saw the Hawkeyes win their second straight Big Ten Tournament championship and reach their 19th NCAA Tournament. In addition, Iowa finished 17-4 overall and ranked fifth in the nation.
The Hawkeyes return several student-athletes from last year’s championship team who have gained valuable experience. The list includes four all-Big Ten selections, four regional all-Americans and three all-Americans.
“We have an experienced and talented team,” said Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum. “As a group we expect to be better on both sides of the ball this season.”
Griesbaum is her ninth season at the helm of the Iowa program. She is joined by Associate Head Coach Lisa Cellucci for the ninth year. Assistant Coach Meridith Thorpe is in her second year on the Hawkeye staff.
“We have an experienced and talented team. As a group we expect to be better on both sides of the ball this season.”
Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum
“Lisa and Meridith are a phenomenal coaching team,” added Griesbaum. “Iowa is fortunate to have their expertise and enthusiasm.”
The following is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2008 squad.
The Hawkeyes are looking to significantly improve their scoring production with six returners that have proven themselves in the offense. Seniors Caroline Blaum, Lindsey Duffy, Caitlin McCurdy, Katie Naughton and sophomores Amy Baxter and Sarah Pergine have all seen time on the forward line for the Hawkeyes.
McCurdy and Naughton are back for their final seasons as Hawkeyes. Both return as key players, starting the majority of Iowa’s games last season. They will be counted on to lead Iowa’s offensive attack.
“Caitlin and Katie add so much speed to our attack,” added Griesbaum. “They are tremendous athletes who we will look to for solid and consistent play throughout the season.”
Blaum returns for her fifth year with the Hawkeyes, as well. After sitting out 2006 with a knee injury, she came back with a vengeance in 2007. Blaum was named the 2007 Big Ten Tournament MVP after recording two goals against Michigan State and two assists vs. Michigan during the tournament. In addition, she started all 21 games for the Hawkeyes, led the team in assists and was a first team regional all-American and first team all-Big Ten selection.
“Caroline will be able to play both forward and midfield this season,” said Griesbaum. “Her skills with the ball set her apart from most attackers in the country.”
Additionally, Duffy returns for her senior season. As a junior she started 19 games last season. Baxter and Pergine will look to build on their rookie seasons. Baxter and Pergine started a combined ten games last season and will be counted on in 2008.
“Amy, Lindsey, and Sarah will add to the already potent attack that we have,” added Griesbaum. “They will be asked to step up and play a major role within our offense.”
There will be two returning midfielders for the Hawkeyes this season. Juniors Tricia Dean and Jess Werley have spent their first two seasons in the midfield and have worked hard to improve. Dean started all 21 games last season and Werley was right behind, starting 20. The duo each recorded 13 points and will be forces for Iowa this season.
“Tricia is quick with and without the ball,” said Griesbaum. “Her passing ability is phenomenal. She also plays a vital role in organizing our defensive schemes.”
“Jess has amazing stick skills,” added Griesbaum. “Her ability to eliminate defenders and make plays is extraordinary.”
“Chelsea has improved, both offensively and defensively, since last season and will be able to help our midfield.”
“Becca and Leslie will add a lot of options for us. They have experience in many lines and we will see where they fit in best. No matter where they play, they will add a tremendous amount of hustle and speed.”
The Hawkeyes are stacked in the backfield with a handful of superb all-around players. Seniors Roz Ellis and Pfeiffer, and junior Megan Beamesderfer return to lead the Hawkeyes.
Ellis has started all 60 games in her Iowa career. Last season as a junior, Ellis was named third team all-America by WomensFieldHockey.com and a second team regional all-American. She was a first team all-Big Ten selection.
“Roz is a three-year starter who will be relied on to anchor our defense,” said Griesbaum. “She possesses strong offensive and defensive skills with a high level of tactical awareness. This knowledge allows her to organize the structure and control the pace of the game.”
Pfeiffer returns for her final season at Iowa. She led the Hawkeyes in almost every statistical category last season, most notably in goals (15) and total points (38). She started all 21 games last season and was named first team all-American by WomensFieldHockey.com and second team all-American by NFHCA. Also, she was named a first team regional all-American and was first team all-Big Ten.
“Lauren will see time in both the backfield and midfield,” said Griesbaum. “Her strength on the ball is untouched. She has improved her ability to distribute the ball which will help our attacking ability. She has taken her defense very seriously and has stepped up her ability to dispossess the ball.”
First team all-American Lauren Pfeiffer returns for her senior season.
After being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2006, Beamesderfer followed it up as a sophomore by being selected first team all-Big Ten, second team all-America by WomensFieldHockey.com and third team all-America by NFHCA. In addition, she was named a first team regional all-American. She has started all 42 games in her career and will be counted on heavily this season.
“Meg is a two-year starter in the defense for the Hawks,” said Griesbaum. “This year she may be needed in the middle of the field to spark our offense and keep the middle of the field organized on defense.”
“Lauren, Roz and Meghan are virtually interchangeable in the backfield,” added Griesbaum. “Their versatility will allow us to have many different looks.”
Sophomore Maggie Neill will return this season after sitting out last year due to an injury. She will look to contribute some important minutes in 2008.
“Maggie will be back this season. She has the ability to distribute the ball well and the Hawks will look to her for some solid defense.”
The Hawkeyes added freshmen Nicole Fiorilla and Lauren Whalen at the position. The talented pair will look for playing time and to add depth to an already tough Iowa defense.
“Nicole and Lauren will be called upon to raise the level of our defense,” said Griesbaum. “They both have experience playing defensive positions. They have sound fundamental skills and are very eager to learn our system first hand.”
Seniors Lissa Munley and Melissa Helsel will solidify the 2008 Hawkeye squad as goalkeepers.
“It will be a phenomenal feeling heading into this season knowing that we have such strong leadership in the goalkeeping position.”
Munley started all 21 games for the Hawkeyes last season. As a junior, she recorded shutouts against No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 4 Duke, William & Mary and Central Michigan. She will be counted on heavily this season as the goalkeeper with the most experience.
“Lissa is a very diligent athlete,” added Griesbaum. “She has taken her skills to another level. Her ability to organize our defense will be paramount this season.”
Helsel saw action in one contest last season. She teamed up with Munley to record a shutout against Sacred Heart.
“Melissa will be competing for time in goal,” said Griesbaum. “She plays the ball with great strength and has improved her communication skills in the circle.”
Freshman Tori Garifo will add depth to the position.
“Tori has an unbelievable opportunity to learn from two goalkeepers who know our program,” said Griesbaum. “We will look to her to jump on board right away with her goalkeeping skills.”
“We prepare to be a top team every year. In order to maintain that level of hockey, you must compete against the best in the country. The 2008 schedule is as strong as ever.”
Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum
As is often the case, the Hawkeyes have a very demanding schedule in 2008.
“We prepare to be a top team every year,” said Griesbaum. “In order to maintain that level of hockey, you must compete against the best in the country. The 2008 schedule is as strong as ever.”
The Hawkeyes kick off the 2008 season by traveling to Winston-Salem, NC. There, Iowa will compete in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Wake Forest (Aug. 30) and defending national champion North Carolina (Aug. 31). It is the seventh year of the Challenge.
Iowa will return to Iowa City the following weekend for its first home stand at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes will face American (Sept. 5) and Duke (Sept. 7).
The following weekend, Iowa will face its longest road trip of the season. The Hawkeyes head West to meet Stanford (Sept. 13) and Pacific (Sept. 14).
Iowa opens Big Ten conference play at Indiana Sept. 26. In addition, the Hawkeyes will face Big Ten foes Northwestern, Ohio State and Michigan at home and will travel to Penn State and Michigan State.
Beginning Nov. 6, Iowa will look to defend its back-to-back Big Ten Tournament championships in Bloomington, IN.