Oct. 25, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa field hockey team’s back was against the wall three weeks ago following a 3-2 road loss at No. 19 Michigan. Fast forward 19 days and the Hawkeyes are streaking into their final homestand of the 2013 season.
Iowa is on a five-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents 25-6 during the stretch. The hot streak comes at a perfect time, as the 19th-ranked Hawkeyes (10-5, 2-2) have three-straight games at Grant Field to close out the regular season.
“The team wants to be in a certain place at the end of the year, so they know they can’t cut corners or take a day off,” said UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum, who has coached the Hawkeyes to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. “They know they put themselves in a position where their back was against the wall, and now they’re responding.”
At 5-5 overall and 0-2 in league play following one-goal defeats at Northwestern (4-3) on Sept. 27, and at Michigan (3-2) on Oct. 5, Iowa routed Missouri State (7-1), Indiana (5-1), and Pacific (7-2) at Grant Field.
Last week, the Hawkeyes won at Ohio State, 3-1, to even up their conference mark, before winning at Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, 3-1, to extend the streak to five.
“We do not look at it in terms of streaks as much as what are we doing to take care of our business every day,” said Griesbaum.
The Hawkeyes have kept chipping away and the pieces are starting to fall into place.
“Things are coming together, and we’re starting to play more of a complete game,” said Griesbaum. “We’re adding subtle things to our offense and defense, and understanding that you can’t go through long stretches of a game where you’re defending for too long.
“We’re starting to bring some different stats to their attention, and that has helped. They have to find a way to sustain their attack. It is all in our capabilities.”
This weekend, Iowa returns to Grant Field, a place where it has won 5-of-7 this season, and nearly 76 percent of its contests all-time.
Friday, winning-streaks collide live on the Big Ten Network as No. 6 Penn State (11-3, 4-0) comes to town for a match at 2 p.m. (CT). The Nittany Lions have won 10 straight.
“We have to prepare like we always do,” said Griesbaum. “It is going to be a fun game. Penn State is good and in first place (in the conference standings). I believe if they were to beat us, they could clinch a share of the Big Ten title, and that does not happen on Grant Field.”
Sunday, Iowa will host UC Davis at 1 p.m. for Senior Day. The Hawkeyes conclude the regular season Nov. 2 at Grant Field, hosting Michigan State at 1 p.m.
“We cannot afford any losses the next three games if we want to accomplish what we’re capable of and what we set out to do,” said Griesbaum. “Looking at the next three games, we have three worthy opponents, but the two in the Big Ten are the most vital because we’re battling now.
“Finishing out our regular season at home is awesome. We want to win every game and do it playing our game and pride ourselves on how we prepare. We are excited for the weekend.”