Hawkeyes Open Big Ten Play At Michigan

Sept. 22, 2009

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The University of Iowa field hockey team begins Big Ten play this weekend. Iowa, the defending three-time Big Ten Tournament champion and 2008 NCAA Final Four participant, will travel to Ann Arbor, MI, to face Big Ten foe Michigan Friday. The Black and Gold (2-5) will face the Maize and Blue at 3 p.m. central time. The match will be shown on the Big Ten Network as a tape-delayed broadcast Sunday at 5 p.m. central time. Leah Secondo and Kara Lentz will call the action.

Michigan is 2-6 on the season and 1-1 at home. All six of the Wolverines’ losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents. The Maize and Blue were the other Big Ten squad that participated in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge earlier this season. They lost to North Carolina (2-1) and Wake Forest (2-1). Both matches were played in Iowa City. Michigan is led by head coach and former Hawkeye standout Marcia Pankratz. She is in her second stint as head coach of the Michigan program. She served as head coach from 1996 to 2004 and returned this season. Pankratz led Michigan to the 2001 NCAA title. The former Hawkeye is tied for third all-time in goals scored at Iowa. A two-time U.S. Olympian, Pankratz was a two-time all-American at Iowa and was named to the 1980’s first team Big Ten all-Decade team.

The Hawkeyes defeated Michigan last season in Iowa City, 3-0. Michigan and Iowa are familiar foes, having met 51 times. The Black and Gold lead the all-time series, 37-14.

All eight freshmen have seen action this season for the Hawkeyes. Geena Lesiak, Sarah Drake, Jess Barnett, Grace Dolfi, Hailey Chadbourne, Sarah Pedrick, Kelsey Boyce 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 is tied for the team lead in goals scored with six. 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. Dolfi recorded her first career goal against VCU Sept. 11. Boyce recorded her first career game action Saturday against Saint Louis. She played the second half and recorded two saves.

The Hawkeyes defeated Saint Louis Saturday at Grant Field, 12-0. The 12 goals are the most scored by Iowa since 1997 when the Hawkeyes defeated Saint Louis, 13-0. Six Hawkeyes recorded at least one goal in the contest. Seniors Tricia Dean and Jess Werley each recorded their first career hat tricks. In addition, freshman Geena Lesiak (1), sophomore Becca Spengler (1), freshman Sarah Drake (2) and senior Meghan Beamesderfer (2) tallied goals. Werley and Beamesderfer were also credited with assists. The Hawkeyes dominated possession during the contest. Iowa had 25 shots, compared to four for Saint Louis. In addition, the Hawkeyes were awarded ten penalty corners, compared to only two for the Billikens.

Friday’s match at Michigan marks the first game of conference action for the Hawkeyes. After playing at Michigan, Iowa will face Indiana, Michigan and Penn State at home and will travel to Ohio State and Northwestern. Last season, Iowa finished 4-2 in conference action. The 4-2 finish placed Iowa in second behind regular season champion Penn State. The Hawkeyes last won the regular season championship in 2004, finishing 5-1.

The Hawkeyes are receiving votes in the latest NFHCA rankings. Iowa will play 10 of the current NFHCA top 20 this season. In addition, the Hawkeyes will play six of the teams receiving votes in the latest poll. The Big Ten Conference currently has three teams ranked in the top 20. Michigan State sits at eighth in the latest rankings. Joining the Spartans is Indiana (No. 17) and Northwestern (No. 18). All Big Ten teams are at least receiving votes as Ohio State, 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 Friday and against Penn State Oct. 18 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). Friday’s match can be seen Sunday at 5 p.m. central time.