Field Hockey to Host No. 4 Penn State, Ball State at Grant Field

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The 16th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team returns to Iowa City this weekend for its first Big Ten Conference match. The Hawkeyes take on No. 4 Penn State on Saturday at 3 p.m. (CT) and Ball State on Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT) at Grant Field. Sunday’s match will be streamed live on BTN2GO. Admission is free to the public.
Penn State enters the weekend ranked fourth and undefeated in its first five matches. The Nittany Lions started the season ranked 18th, but victories over Old Dominion (6-2), No. 5 Virginia (3-0), Temple (8-1), Albany (3-1), and Lock Haven (4-1) have propelled them to the four spot. Junior Moira Putsch is currently tied for fifth in the Big Ten with five goals. Senior Brooke Birosik leads Penn State with five assists, which currently ranks third in the Big Ten. Putsch and Birosik lead the Nitty Lions with 14 points each and are tied for fifth in the Big Ten.   

• The Hawkeyes lead the series, 25-22-1.
• Iowa is 12-4-1 against Penn State at Grant Field.
• The last time these two teams met was last season. The Nittany Lions won that match, 3-2. Penn State scored on a penalty corner with no time left on the clock to win the match. 

Ball State is off to a good start to 2016, winning four of its first six matches. The Cardinals have taken down Appalachian State (3-1), Davidson (2-1), Brown (2-1), and Colgate (2-0). Senior Lexi Kavanaugh leads Ball State with two goals and two assists for a team-high six points. Senior Mikayla Mooney and sophomore Darbi Gullett have each scored two goals as well. Senior goalkeeper, Jordan Dues has played every minute of every game for the Cardinals and she was named MAC Defensive Player of The Week last week for her performances against Brown and Richmond. 
• The Hawkeyes lead the series, 23-2.
• Iowa is undefeated (12-0) versus Ball State at Grant Field.
• The Hawkeyes have won the last eight matches between the two teams, dating back to 2003, including a 6-1 victory last season. The Hawkeyes have only allowed four goals in the last eight matches against Ball State. 

The No. 19 University of Iowa field hockey team shutout Kent State on Sunday, 2-0, at Murphy-Mellis Field. The win improves the Hawkeyes’ record to 5-1, equaling its best start to a single-season in five years.
         After a scoreless first half, sophomore Makenna Grewe scored her second goal of the season in the 44th minute when she was set up nicely by junior Mallory Lefkowitz.
         The Hawkeyes extended their lead to 2-0 in the 50th minute. Freshman Isabella Solaroli tallied her second goal of the season with redshirt senior Natalie Cafone being credited with the assist.
         Iowa displayed strong defense throughout the match. The Hawkeyes were able to fend off all five corners that they faced. Senior Alexandra Pecora made six saves to earn her second consecutive shutout, and fifth win in goal.
         Iowa outscored its opponents 6-0 in two matches this weekend against Monmouth and Kent State.

Senior Alexandra Pecora was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Tuesday. It marks the second weekly honor of Pecora’s career and the third straight honor for the Hawkeyes this season. 
        A native of Marlton, New Jersey, Pecora posted back-to-back shutouts against Monmouth (4-0) and Kent State (2-0) last weekend. The goalkeeper registered one save against Monmouth and six against Kent State. 
Freshman Katie Birch was named Big Ten 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 final seconds.

The Hawkeyes’ 5-1 record equals their best start to a single-season record in five years.
        Iowa’s 11 goals and 39 shots against Saint Louis are the most by any Big Ten team in a match this season. 
        Individually, Alexandra Pecora has shutout Iowa’s last two opponents (Monmouth and Kent State), and combined with Katie Jones to blank Saint Louis. The senior is now 5-1 in net and leads the Big Ten with two shutouts.
         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 (5.33), third in points per match (2.83), and fifth in goals per match (1.00) and assists per match (0.83).
        Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have two players (Katie Birch and JoElla Guagliardo) record hat tricks this season.

Natailie Cafone scored her 53rd and 54th goals in Iowa’s 4-0 win over Monmouth (Sept. 10). With the goals, Cafone passes Lauren Pfeiffer, and now ranks ninth all time in goals in a career at Iowa. 

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 9th all-time in program history in career goals (54).
    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 33-19 in games Natalie Cafone has started.
• The Hawkeyes are 29-6 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 are back in action next weekend as they host a pair of conference matches. Iowa faces No. 7 Maryland Friday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. and Rutgers on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. at Grant Field. Admission is free to the public. 

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