Back to the Standard

Nov. 26, 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 — For the University of Iowa field hockey team, the program’s tradition speaks for itself.

The UI has now appeared in the NCAA Tournament 21 times, reaching 11 Final Fours. Both are the most of any Big Ten program. The Hawkeyes are 26-22 all-time in the tournament, owning the most wins of any Big Ten team in NCAA Tournament play. In addition, Iowa won the 1986 National Championship. It is a tradition of excellence, where the standard is reaching the NCAA Tournament.

The Hawkeyes got back to the standard this year, reaching their 21st NCAA Tournament. Iowa earned an at-large berth, which is extremely difficult to accomplish in a 16-team tournament field.

Iowa traveled to College Park, Md. to face No. 4 Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 12. The Hawkeyes fell to the Terrapins on their home turf, 4-2.

“We had pretty lofty goals,” said McGraw on the game against the eventual national champions. “We wanted to come in and upset Maryland and prove to everyone that the Big Ten is a force to be reckoned with. We fell a little bit short of that, but we’re going to keep our heads up and use this experience for next year.

“It was a good experience, not exactly what we wanted in terms of the result, but we have to take it for what it is and grow from it.”

“The players really valued this season and having this experience,” said 12th-year head coach Tracey Griesbaum. “I don’t think it was a fluke. We were a legitimate team in this tournament, and I think it’s going to pay off, obviously not for Becca [Spengler] as a senior, but I do think she has a lot to be proud of.

“Coming off the season we had last year, as the lone senior, that’s really awesome for her. I’m glad she got to play in the tournament.”

“It was huge,” said McGraw on the NCAA Tournament experience. “It’s been a huge turnaround for us. Going from being ranked 49th to making it to the tournament is a huge step and it just goes to show that all of our hard work can pay off for us.”

If Iowa’s turnaround from a disappointing 2010 campaign to a 2011 season that ended in the NCAA Tournament is any indication, the Hawkeyes have the pieces returning to continue growing next season.

Iowa will return 17 of the 18 student-athletes next year from a team that finished 15-5 and 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes will return 93 percent of its goal scoring.

Iowa’s three leading goal scorers, regional All-Americans Jessica Barnett, Sarah Drake and Kim Scraper, return to lead the Iowa offense, and McGraw, another regional All-American, returns for her final season in goal. Barnett was named a national All-American earlier this week.

“For all of our returners, this is our standard, being in the NCAA Tournament,” said Griesbaum. “We have to build on it and put ourselves in a better place next year.”