Hawkeyes Set To Hit The Road

Aug. 31, 2009

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The University of Iowa field hockey team (0-2) hits the road for the first time in 2009 this weekend. Iowa, the defending three-time Big Ten Tournament champion and 2008 NCAA Final Four participant, travels to Amherst, MA, to face Massachusetts and Boston University. The Black and Gold, ranked ninth nationally, will play at No. 17 Massachusetts Saturday at 1 p.m. (CDT). The Hawkeyes will then face Boston University Sunday at noon (CDT). Both games will be played at Garber Field.

Massachusetts (1-0) is ranked 17th in the NFHCA preseason rankings. The Minutewomen return six starters and 13 letterwinners from a team that finished 17-5 overall and 6-0 in the Atlantic 10 last season. The team went on to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Minutewomen opened the 2009 season with a 1-0 win over No. 20 Providence Saturday. They are led by third-year head coach Justine Sowry. She is 32-14 all time at the helm of the program.

Boston University is receiving votes in the NFHCA preseason rankings. They are 0-2 on the season. The Terriers lost at Big Ten foe Northwestern Friday, 2-1 in overtime, in the Wildcat Classic. The Scarlet and White then fell to top-ranked and defending national champion Maryland Sunday, 2-0, in the Wildcat Classic. The Terriers return four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished 10-10 overall and 4-1 in America East conference play. Boston is coached by Sally Starr. In 28 seasons at the helm of the program, she is 339-211-19.

The Hawkeyes have not faced Massachusetts since 1996. Iowa defeated the Minutewomen 2-1 in the Hawkeye Invitational. The Black and Gold faced Boston last season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes won 5-1. Iowa is 7-1-1 all-time against Massachusetts. They are 0-0-1 when playing at UMass. The Hawkeyes are 7-1 all-time against Boston and 1-1 when playing on a neutral site.

Seven freshmen saw action last weekend for the Hawkeyes. Geena Lesiak, Sarah Drake, Jess Barnett, Grace Dolfi, Hailey Chadbourne, Sarah Pedrick and Kathleen McGraw all saw game action. Lesiak recorded her first career goal Saturday against Wake Forest. Additionally, McGraw saw her first career game action in goal Sunday against North Carolina, playing the second half.

The Hawkeyes are ranked ninth in the preseason NFHCA rankings. Iowa will play ten of the NFHCA top 20 this season. In addition, the Hawkeyes will play five of the teams receiving votes in the latest poll. The Big Ten Conference currently has five teams ranked in the top 20. Michigan State sits at eighth in the latest rankings. Joining the Spartans are the Hawkeyes (No. 9), Penn State (No. 11), Ohio State (No. 18) and Michigan (No. 19). All Big Ten teams are at least receiving votes as both Northwestern and Indiana received votes. The Hawkeyes have been ranked in the top 20 of the NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll for 21 straight weeks dating back to 2006. The Hawkeyes have yet to fall out of the top 10 of the poll since the start of 2007.

Iowa had quite the season in 2008, finishing 18-5 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes won their third-straight Big Ten Tournament Championship, reached their 20th NCAA Tournament in program history and advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the 11th time in program history.

The Black and Gold defeated nine nationally-ranked opponents during the season and Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum was named NFHCA West Region Coach of the Year. Five Hawkeyes were named all-Big Ten. Lauren Pfeiffer, Roz Ellis and Caroline Blaum were all named to the first team. Meghan Beamesderfer and Lissa Munley were named to the second team. Pfeiffer and Tricia Dean were each named to the Big Ten Tournament Team, as Pfeiffer took MVP honors. Six Hawkeyes were named West Region all-Americans. First team honorees included Blaum, Ellis, Munley, Pfeiffer and Beamesderfer. Katie Naughton was named to the second team.

Pfeiffer and Ellis were named to the NCAA Tournament all-tournament team for their efforts in Iowa’s run to the Final Four. Additionally, three Hawkeyes garnered national all-American honors. Blaum, now an assistant coach on the Iowa staff, and Pfeiffer, now a volunteer coach at Iowa, were named to the first team. Ellis was named to the second team. Pfeiffer also won the Big Ten Medal of Honor and was named a finalist for the Honda Award.

The Iowa field hockey team appeared on the Big Ten Network more than any other conference school last season – six times. Iowa’s games at Michigan and against Penn State will both be televised by the Big Ten Network this season. Both games will be shown on a tape-delayed basis in Big Ten Network (HD).