Sept. 18, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa field hockey team battled through the rain and an hour long lightning delay before defeating Rutgers, 4-3, on Friday afternoon at Grant Field. The victory marked Iowa’s fifth win of the season (5-3) and first in conference play (1-0).
“We finally had some penalty corner execution today, which was very good,” said UI head coach Lisa Cellucci. “Rutgers outshot us and had more penalty corners than us, but we were able to execute on opportunities when we had them and I’m really happy to see that.”
The Hawkeyes jumped out of the gate early. Freshman Isabella Brown drove the Iowa offense down the field before dumping off a pass to sophomore Mallory Lefkowitz who pushed the ball by an outstretched Rutgers goalkeeper, giving the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead just 42 seconds into the game.
It was all Rutgers the rest of the half, though. Katie Champion tied the game in the eighth minute as the Scarlet Knights went on to outshoot the Hawkeyes, 10-2, and hold an advantage in penalty corners, 3-0.
That’s when lightning struck. Though it halted game play for an hour, it sparked the Iowa offensive attack.
“Whenever you have a delay you have to make sure the team stays engaged,” said Cellucci. “We made sure our players got a little food in their systems and were ready to go so that we didn’t lose too much momentum when we got back out there. I thought the team handled the situation quite well. They were focused in the locker room and came out ready to attack in the second half.”
The Hawkeyes went on to score three goals in the second half. However, the Scarlet Knights were never out of the picture.
Iowa took a 2-1 lead in the 43rd minute when sophomore Veronique Declercq sent a rocket past Rutgers’ goalkeeper to score her second goal of the season.
The visitors came roaring back with a goal of their own in the 51st minute. Katie Champion stole an Iowa pass to lead a three-on-one breakaway before sending the ball to Nicole Imbriaco who put a shifty move on Pecora for the goal.
A goal from freshman Makenna Grewe in the 57th minute and another from junior Stephanie Norlander, the Big Ten’s leading goal scorer (10), in the 60th minute gave Iowa a 4-2 advantage with time winding down.
Another goal from Imbriaco in the 64th minute trimmed Iowa’s lead down to one. With 1:49 remaining in regulation, Rutgers pulled its goalkeeper as a way to generate more of an offensive attack. The Hawkeye defense prevailed, holding on for the 4-3 victory.
“It got a bit chaotic at the end there, but AP (Alexandra Pecora) did a very good job of keeping the ball out of the net,” said Cellucci. “We’ll continue to get better at being able to manage the game, but we need to really have leadership in that situation and not make it as stressful as it was.”
The Hawkeyes return to Grant Field on Sunday for a nonconference showdown with Missouri State at 1 p.m. (CT). The game will be streamed live on BTN Plus at BTN2go.com.