Field Hockey to Face Monmouth, Kent State

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The 19th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team travels to Kent, Ohio, this weekend for a pair of nonconference matches. The Hawkeyes take on Monmouth on Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) and Kent State on Sunday at 11 a.m. (CT).

Monmouth enters this weekend’s action unbeaten with a 4-0 record. The Hawks recorded wins over VCU (3-1), Lafayette (3-0), Georgetown (2-0), and Lehigh (5-0). Monmouth’s defense has yielded only one goal through four games. Alyssa Ercolino and Julie Laszlo lead the team with nine points each.
        The Hawks are coming off a season that saw them finish at the top of the MAAC conference to secure the MAAC regular season championship. Monmouth finished the 2015 season with an 8-11 record, including a 5-1 record in league play. The Hawks welcome back 12 players to their 2016 roster, including sophomore Kelly Hanna, junior Meg Donahue, and Ercolino. Hanna was one of three unanimous preseason all-league selections and has earned the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year honor the past two seasons. 

• This will be the first matchup between the Hawkeyes and Monmouth.

Kent State posted an 11-9 overall record and a 5-1 conference mark a year ago. The Golden Flashes won both the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament in the last two seasons. Kent State is off to a fast start in 2016, winning four of its first five matches. The Golden Flashes registered wins over Michigan State, Villanova, California, and Pacific. Their lone loss came against Stanford on the West Coast last weekend. Alison Harmatz leads the squad with four goals (8 points).
• The Hawkeyes lead the series, 7-1.
• The Hawkeyes have won the last four matches between the two teams, including a 7-1 victory last season in Iowa City.

Freshman Katie Birch was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week for the second time in as many weeks on Sept. 6. 
        Birch scored the first four goals of her career to help the Hawkeyes to victories over Fairfield (4-1) and Saint Louis (11-0) last weekend. The York, England, native anchored an Iowa defense that only allowed one goal and stopped all 11 penalty corners faced. 
        Birch earned her first conference honor following her performance at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Winston Salem, North Carolina, Aug. 27-28. She registered her first career assist and was part of a Hawkeye defense that fended off three Demon Deacon penalty corners, including a critical stop in the waning moments of the game.

Junior JoElla Guagliardo and freshman Katie Birch each registered hat tricks to guide the University of Iowa field hockey team to an, 11-0, victory over Saint Louis on Sunday at Grant Field. Six Hawkeyes combined to score 11 goals. Iowa recorded 39 shots in the game.
         Guagliardo started her scoring in 16th minute. Senior Sophie Plasteras made a nice pass to Guagliardo who put the ball past the goalkeeper to give Iowa a 3-0 lead. The junior scored her second goal in the in the 57th minute. Redshirt senior Natalie Cafone beat a defender down the sideline and passed to an open Guagliardo to extend the Iowa lead to 9-0. Guagliardo gave the Hawkeyes a 10-goal advantage less than three minutes later, off of another great setup from Cafone. The hat trick marked Guagliardo’s first three goals of the season.
         Birch’s first goal came in the 27th minute. The York, England, native scored Iowa’s fourth goal off of a corner by senior Chandler Ackers.  The freshman added her second goal –Iowa’s sixth goal of the match — in the 41st minute when she drove past a defender and placed the ball perfectly into the corner. Birch completed her hat trick in the 65th minute. Ackers took a shot off a corner that was saved by the Saint Louis goalkeeper, but Birch sent a rocket into the cage off the rebound. Birch now has four goals on the season, all of which were scored in the past two games.
         Plasteras had two goals in addition to her assist. The senior scored her first goal of the season in the 12th minute of the match. Guagliardo was credited with the assist after she passed to the center to setup Plasteras. The scoring continued for Plasteras in the 36th minute. Cafone took a shot that hit the post and Plasteras was able to put away the second chance opportunity.
         Junior Melissa Progar, freshman Isabella Solaroli, and Ackers also scored in the victory. Solaroli’s goal was the first of her career.
    The Hawkeyes displayed great defense in addition to their stellar attacking game. Iowa yielded just two shots, both of which game in the last two minutes of the match. Senior Alexandra Pecora was credited with her third win in goal.

Iowa’s 11 goals and 39 shots against Saint Louis are the most by any Big Ten team in a match this season. 
        Individually, Natalie Cafone ranks in the top-10 in a number of statiscal categories in the Big Ten. The Hawkeye senior ranks second in shots per match (5.5), fifth in points per match (2.75), and sixth in goals per match (0.75) and assists per match (0.75).
        Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have two players (Katie Birch and JoElla Guagliardo) record hat tricks this season.

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). 

Chandler Ackers, Natalie Cafone, and Melissa Progar received Big Ten preseason honors. 
        Ackers earned Big Ten preseason recognition for the second straight season. Last year, Ackers was named to NFHCA’s All-Regional second team and also received second- team All-Big Ten accolades. She 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. She 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 ranks 10th all-time in program history in career goals (48). 
        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. 

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.   

• Iowa is 31-19 in games Natalie Cafone has started.
• The Hawkeyes are 28-6 when Cafone scores at least one goal.  

• 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.

• Makenna Grewe scored 25 points last year, 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. 

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 return to Iowa City next week, taking on Penn State (Sept. 16) and Ball State (Sept.18) at Grant Field.

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