Iowa Set To Host Saint Louis Saturday

Sept. 16, 2009

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The University of Iowa field hockey team returns to Iowa City this weekend. Iowa, the defending three-time Big Ten Tournament champion and 2008 NCAA Final Four participant, will host Saint Louis Saturday. The Black and Gold (1-5) will face the Billikens at 1 p.m. at Grant field. Admission is free.

Saint Louis is 1-4 on the season. The Billikens have defeated Robert Morris and lost to Kent State, Ohio State, Missouri State and Louisville. The Hawkeyes will play both Ohio State and Louisville later this season. Saint Louis is led by Head Coach Lauren Bruce. She is in her first year at the helm of the program. The Billikens finished 4-13 overall and 0-6 in Atlantic-10 last season. They return 11 letterwinners and seven starters from last year’s squad.

The Hawkeyes have not faced Saint Louis since 2001, winning 5-0. The Black and Gold are 14-5-1 all-time against the Billikens.

Seven freshmen have seen action this season for the Hawkeyes. Geena Lesiak, Sarah Drake, Jess Barnett, Grace Dolfi, Hailey Chadbourne, Sarah Pedrick and Kathleen McGraw all have seen game action. Lesiak recorded her first career goal Aug. 30 against Wake Forest. McGraw saw her first career game action in goal Aug. 31 against North Carolina, playing the second half. McGraw recorded her first career win at Boston Sept. 6. Drake leads the Black and Gold in goals scored (5). She recorded her first career goals with two Sept. 5 at UMass and added another Sept. 6 against the Terriers. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for her efforts. Friday, Dolfi recorded her first career goal against VCU.

Saturday’s match against Saint Louis will be the final nonconference match for the Hawkeyes before Big Ten conference play begins next week. The Hawkeyes will begin conference play at Michigan Sept. 25. The match against the Billikens will not be the final nonconference match for Iowa. The Black and Gold will face California and Louisville at home and will face American and James Madison away from Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes are receiving votes in the latest NFHCA rankings. Iowa will play 11 of the current 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 four teams ranked in the top 20. Michigan State sits at eighth in the latest rankings. Joining the Spartans is Indiana (No. 17), Northwestern (No. 18), and Ohio State (No. 20). All Big Ten teams are at least receiving votes as both Penn State and Michigan are also receiving votes.

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).

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.