Nov. 9, 2012
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The 14th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team held its final practice prior to NCAA Tournament play Friday at Turf Field on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The Hawkeyes will face host and seventh-ranked Virginia (15-5) tomorrow at 1 p.m. (CT).
“They were really focused at practice today,” said UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum. “We stuck to basics and sprinkled in a few things specifically to our game plan. They’re in a really good place and really excited to be here.”
Friday was Iowa’s first chance to practice at Turf Field after traveling from Iowa City to Charlottesville on Thursday.
“The turf is blue, but I kind of liked it,” senior Sarah Drake. “It will be fun.”
“The field is fast and it’s a good surface,” said junior Marike Stribos. “I feel that we’ll have a good game tomorrow.”
While Iowa and Virginia haven’t met since 2008, the Hawkeyes feel comfortable with the style of play the Cavaliers are expected to utilize.
“I think they are going to play really similar to Penn State,” said Drake. “They have some key players that are going to try to run the field and we have to be able to contain them while also playing our game. It’s going to be fast-paced, intense hockey.”
The current group of Hawkeyes also feels comfortable in the NCAA Tournament, as they garnered an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, earning back-to-back berths for the first time since 2007-08. Last season, the Hawkeyes fell at eventual national champion Maryland, 4-2, in the first round of the tournament — an experience that will help Saturday.
“Most of us have more experience this year since we went through it last year,” said Stribos. “We expect more out of the tournament than we did last year because last year was our first time and it was a big deal for us. This year, we want to go further.”
Iowa has been selected to 22 NCAA Tournaments, advanced to 11 Final Fours, and has won 26 tournament games — marks that all stand as the most of any school as a member of the Big Ten conference. The Hawkeyes are seeking their first NCAA Tournament victory since winning at Michigan State, 1-0, on Nov. 16, 2008 in second round action — something they are capable of again.
“They’re ready to go and put their skills to the test and give Virginia a really good game,” said Griesbaum. “We expect to play a good game; playing 70 minutes together following the game plan. If we do that we will definitely be successful.”