No. 23 Iowa Ready For Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Aug. 24, 2011

The University of Iowa field hockey team, ranked 23rd nationally, opens the 2011 campaign with the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Black and Gold will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 10th annual challenge this weekend. Iowa will face 11th-ranked Wake Forest Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and No. 2 North Carolina Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Phyllis Ocker Field. Both times are central.

The 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge marks the 10th year of the annual tournament. Iowa is 3-15 all-time in the Challenge, playing Wake Forest and North Carolina each year. Last season, the tournament was held in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Hawkeyes fell to both schools. Iowa is 2-9 all-time against Wake Forest and 3-20 all-time against North Carolina.

Wake Forest is ranked 11th in the preseason rankings. They are led by head coach Jennifer Averill. The former Northwestern standout is in her 20th season at the helm of the program. She is 280-118-3 all-time at the helm of the Demon Deacon program. Under her watch, Wake Forest has been to 11 NCAA Tournaments, nine NCAA Final Fours and has won three national championships.

North Carolina, the defending NCAA runner-up, is ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll. The Tar Heels are led by head coach Karen Shelton. Since taking over as the North Carolina head coach in 1981, she has compiled a record of 504-136-9. Shelton has led North Carolina to six national championships, seven NCAA runner-up finishes and 28 winning seasons.

Iowa opened its 2011 season with a 2-1 exhibition victory last Friday against No. 16 Louisville at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes struck first, scoring in the 11th minute to take an early 1-0 lead. Junior Jessica Barnett, a 2010 Regional All-American and second team All-Big Ten honoree, scored off an assist from sophomore Kelsey Mitchell to give Iowa the early advantage. Iowa extended its lead to 2-0 in the 60th minute. Junior Sarah Drake, also a 2010 second team All-Big Ten selection, crossed a pass to freshman Corinne Allen, who chipped in the second Hawkeye goal of the afternoon. The Cardinals added a goal late in regulation, scoring in the 68th minute to make the final score 2-1. The Hawkeyes kept the pressure on throughout, tallying 17 shots and eight penalty corners. Louisville recorded five shots and one corner.

The 2011 season marks the 25th anniversary of Iowa’s 1986 national championship team. Iowa will honor the team at its game against Massachusetts at Grant Field on Sunday, Sept. 4.

Former Hawkeye Mary Koboldt is one of six individuals who will be inducted by the National Iowa Varsity Club and the University of Iowa Athletics Department into the Athletics Hall of Fame. A member of the 23rd class, she will be honored and inducted into the National Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame at Iowa’s home football game against Tennessee Tech Sept. 3.

A Hawkeye midfielder from 1982-85, the former U.S. National Team member and U.S. Olympian was a three-time All-Big Ten honoree and a two-time All-American. Koboldt, a member of four NCAA Tournament teams and two Big Ten championship teams, was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team after leading Iowa to its first ever trip to the NCAA Final Four in 1984. As a senior in 1985, she was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was a nominee for the Honda Broderick Award, as the top collegiate female athlete in the country.

The Black and Gold feature five freshmen on the 2011 roster. Corinne Allen (Gibbsboro, N.J.) and Sara Watro (Audubon, Pa.) will both see action on the forward line. Dani Hemeon (Gilroy, Calif.) and Brynn Gitt (Lumberton, N.J.) will contribute to the Hawkeye midfield and Brittany Evangelisti (Voorhees, N.J.) looks to see action in the backfield.

Iowa’s game at Ohio State on Saturday, Oct. 8 will be televised by the Big Ten Network (BTN). It will be shown as a tape delay at 1 p.m. on Oct. 9. Additional Hawkeye contests will be streamed live on In addition, coverage of the Big Ten Tournament can be seen on BTN. Iowa has won three of the last five tournaments.

The Hawkeyes are ranked 23rd in the preseason NFHCA rankings. Iowa will play six of the NFHCA top 20 this season. In addition, the Hawkeyes will play five of the teams receiving votes in the preseason poll. The Big Ten Conference currently has four teams ranked in the top 20. Ohio State sits at sixth in the preseason rankings. Joining the Buckeyes are the Nittany Lions (No. 8), the Wolverines (No. 9) and the Spartans (No. 13). All Big Ten teams are at least receiving votes as Northwestern and Indiana also received votes in the first poll.

Four Hawkeyes (freshmen Brittany Evangelisti and Corinne Allen, sophomore Kelsey Mitchell, junior Geena Lesiak) hail from Eastern Regional High School in New Jersey. The school has won 12 consecutive New Jersey state championships. Jessica Barnett and Karli Johansen are both from Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver, Canada. Seven Hawkeyes hail from New Jersey, three from Pennsylvania, three from Canada, two from California, and one each from Delaware, Michigan, Belgium and Germany.

Become fans of the official Iowa Field Hockey fan page by going to to follow the Hawkeyes on Facebook. Fans can also follow the Black and Gold on Twitter at