The University of Iowa field hockey team kicks of the 2016 season this week when it travels to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Hawkeyes face seventh-ranked Wake Forest on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (CT) and top-ranked North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT). Fans can visit hawkeyesports.com to view live stats for each match.
SCOUTING WAKE FOREST
Wake Forest hosts this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge following a season that saw the Demon Deacons finish 13-6 overall and appear in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row. Head coach Jennifer Averill returns for her 25th season at Wake Forest. Last year’s NCAA Tournament berth was the 15th time the program qualified for the tournament during her tenure. The Demon Deacons lost NFHCA second-team All-American, and points leader Jule Newak due to graduation, but return sophomore Jule Grashoff. Grashoff earned second-team All-ACC accolades, and led the Demon Deacons with 13 goals last season.
IOWA VS. WAKE FOREST — ALL TIME SERIES
• Wake Forest leads the series, 9-7.
• Iowa has won the last five matchups, including a 2-1 overtime victory last year in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar Heels are coming of a season in which they won the ACC Championship and were the runner-ups in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels finished the year ranked second with a 21-3 record. Head coach Karen Shelton enters her 34th year at North Carolina. Throughout her years with the program, Shelton has led the Tar Heels to seven NCAA Championships, 10 NCAA runner-up finishes, and 19 ACC championships.
IOWA VS. NORTH CAROLINA — ALL TIME SERIES
• The Tar Heels lead the series 25-3.
• The previous time Iowa and North Carolina met was last year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Tar Heels came out on top with a narrow, 2-1, victory.
THE HAWKEYES IN THE ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE
This year marks the 15th year of existence for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which began in 2002. The Hawkeyes are 5-5 in their last 10 ACC/Big Ten Challenge matches. In last year’s event, Iowa defeated Wake Forest, 2-1 in overtime, before being edged by North Carolina, 2-1.
2016 IOWA OPPONENTS IN THE RANKINGS
Iowa will once again face a challenging schedule in 2016, facing six teams that are ranked in the NFHCA Preseason Poll. The Hawkeyes will face ranked teams in their first two matches of the season in No. 7 Wake Forest (Aug. 27) and top-ranked North Carolina (Aug. 28). Iowa will also face No. 6 Maryland (Sept. 20), No. 12 Louisville (Oct. 2), No. 16 Northwestern (Oct. 14), and No. 18 Penn State (Sept. 18). Iowa is slated to face four of the six ranked opponents away from Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes welcome back 14 players including seniors, Chandler Ackers, Natalie Cafone, Sophie Plasteras, and Alexandra Pecora. In addition to the returnees, Iowea welcomes five newcomers to 2016 roster, including Katie Birch (MF/D), Ryley Miller (MF), Isabella Solaroli (MF), Leslie Speight (GK), and Sophie Sunderland (MF).
3 HAWKEYES RECEIVE BIG TEN PRESEASON HONORS
Chandler Ackers, Natalie Cafone, and Melissa Progar received Big Ten preseason honors. The announcement came Monday by the Big Ten Conference.
Ackers earned Big Ten preseason recognition for the second straight season. Last season, Ackers was named to NFHCA’s All-Regional second team and also received second- team All-Big Ten accolades. The senior started all 19 games last season, scoring a career-high eight goals, while recording six assists for a total of 22 points.
Cafone, who redshirted last season due to injury, is now a two-time Big Ten preseason honoree. The redshirt senior was named the NFHCA West Region Player of the Year in 2014, while also being named first-team NFHCA All-American, and garnering NFHCA West All-Region accolades. The 2014 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year ranked fourth nationally in goals per game (1.00), and led the Big Ten in points per game (2.33) in 2014. Cafone currently ranks 10th all-time in program history in career goals (48).
Progar receives Big Ten preseason honors for the first time in her career. Progar started every game a year ago and was second on the team with 10 assists. The junior recorded two or more assists in three games, including a pair of three-assist performances in victories over Saint Louis, and Ball State.
CAFONE RETURNS TO ACTION
Redshirt senior Natalie Cafone returns to action this fall after redshirting last season due to a shoulder injury. In 2014 Cafone led the Big Ten and ranked fourth nationally in goals per game (1.00). She also led the Big Ten and ranked seventh nationally in points per game (2.33). Cafone paced the Hawkeyes in goals (18) and points (42) in 2014, and she currently ranks 10th all-time in program history in career goals (48).
Cafone was named the NFHCA West Region Player of the Year, a first-team NFHCA All-American, and garnered NFHCA West All-Region accolades in 2014. She was also named the Big Ten Player of The Year, and earned first team All-Big Ten accolades.
WITH CAFONE IN THE LINEUP
• Iowa is 28-18 in games Natalie Cafone has started.
• The Hawkeyes are 26-5 when Cafone scores at least one goal.
ACKERS RECEIVES POSTSEASON ACCOLADES
• Chandler Ackers received the first postseason honors of her career in 2015.
• Ackers was named second-team All-Region and second-team All-Big Ten following her junior season.
• Ackers had a career-high eight goals and 22 points.
• Ackers’ 22 points was third most on the team in 2015.
GREWE’S FRESHMAN CAMPAIGN
• Makenna Grewe scored 25 points last season, the most by a freshman since 2005 (Caitn McCurdy, 28).
• Grewe’s 25 points are the fourth most by a freshman since 1989.
• Grewe’s 25 points was the second most on the team last season.
HAWKEYES IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Hawkeyes have been selected to the NCAA Tournament 22 times in program history — the most of any school as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes are 26-23 all-time in tournament play, including 9-5 in first round match-ups and 11-6 in second round contests. Iowa has advanced to 11 NCAA Final Fours, winning the 1986 national championship. The Hawkeyes’ 26 tournament victories and 11 NCAA Final Fours are the most of any school as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
The Hawkeyes’ first home match is versus Fairfield on Sept. 2, at 2 p.m. (CT) at Grant Field. Admission is free to the public.
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