Hawkeyes Seek Big Ten Title

Nov. 2, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa field hockey team opens play at the Big Ten Tournament tomorrow in University Park, Pa. The goal is simple: win the Big Ten title.

“The goal is to win the Big Ten Tournament,” said senior team captain Becca Spengler.

Iowa has captured four Big Ten Tournament titles in its history and is looking for No. 5 this year. Spengler was a member of the team’s last tournament championship in 2008. The 2008 team’s title capped off a string of three-straight tournament championships (2006, 2007, 2008). The Hawkeyes are one of two schools ever to accomplish the feat.

Iowa is 22-13 (.628) all-time in conference tournament play, owning the most wins all-time and the best winning percentage.

Many times, teams that are playing their best entering the tournament are the ones celebrating in the end. The Hawkeyes fit that bill, as the team is riding a six-game winning streak where it has outscored its opponents 23-7.

“Everyone is on the same page and everyone is fighting for the same purpose,” said fellow team captain Jessica Barnett. “That unity is really strong. That is why we have been doing so well lately.”

Barnett’s play has been a major bonus for the Hawkeyes during their win streak.

The junior has tallied nine goals and three defensive saves during the stretch. All of her goals on the season (nine) have come during the win streak, as she has tallied at least one goal in five of the games, multiple goals in three contests, and at least one point in all six games. She recorded her first career hat trick at Ball State last Friday, tallying three goals in the regular season finale.

The play of Barnett helped Iowa finish 14-3 during the regular season, marking the Hawkeyes’ highest regular season win total since 2007.

Iowa finished tied for second in league play at 4-2, earning the No. 4 seed in this week’s tournament. Despite the regular season success, the Hawkeyes know there is a great opportunity ahead of them.

“Winning the tournament would mean a lot for us,” said fellow team captain Kathleen McGraw. “We fell short of winning the regular season league title, so this gives us another opportunity to finish first in one of the top conferences in the nation and give us momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament.”

“This would prove all of the hard work we have done over the past year has paid off,” said Spengler. “It would be a great culmination to a good season and push us on to NCAAs. It would be a really big accomplishment for our team.”

The 11th-ranked Hawkeyes (14-3, 4-2) battle fifth-seeded Indiana (9-7, 2-4) tomorrow at 9 a.m. (CT). The match will be held at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex in University Park, Pa.

The winner will face top seeded, and seventh-ranked, Michigan on Friday at 9 a.m. (CT). The semifinals and championship will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

Starting today, there is one goal.