The Engine of the Team

Hawk Talk Monthly — Oct. 2016 | 24 Hawkeyes to Watch | Natalie Cafone Earns Big Ten Weekly Honor


Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa field hockey team’s season is in full swing. The Hawkeyes are 9-5 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play with four conference games remaining. 

One thing that has stood out to UI head coach Lisa Cellucci this season is the improvement of junior Melissa Progar.

“Melissa has always been an outstanding player,” said Cellucci. “She was highly recruited, but from her sophomore season to this year she made major transformations in her physical fitness and strength, and simplified her game.

“She has always been a good eliminator, but we needed her to eliminate once or twice and then go forward and she took that to heart. Her summer preparation was awesome.”
Progar plays the center midfield position, which makes her an asset to the offense and defense. The central midfield position not only contains important offensive and defensive responsibilities, but it is also makes Progar the bridge between the two. 
“Her role is to be a steady presence in the midfield and be one of the key distributors to help get the ball incrementally up the field, as well as be able to defend in transition,” said Cellucci. “She is also a key part to our penalty corners. She is huge in all facets of our game.” 
Progar helped the Hawkeyes post a pair of wins last weekend, boosting her team-leading assists total to 10 after notching six helpers in victories over Central Michigan and UC Davis.
The York Town, Virginia, native has started every game at midfield the past two seasons. Over the past year, Progar’s fitness has been an area of improvement.
“This past summer I focused on my fitness and confidence,” said Progar.  “I wanted to come into preseason as ready as I could be.”
Progar’s focus on fitness has shown on the field as the junior has been on the field nearly every minute in all 14 games. It has also stood out to her teammates.
“She is in the center of the field for us, so she is like the engine of the team,” said senior Sophie Plasteras. “She plays full games at a high level and keeps things going both offensively and defensively for us.”
Progar plays a big role for the Hawkeyes and they would like to see her build off her recent improvements as the season rolls on and for her final season at Iowa. 
“She is crafty and creative with the ball and is also poised,” said Cellucci. “Those two things are awesome, and now she has added the physical fitness piece and has great speed so that combination is lethal. I want her to continue to progress and keep her game simple.”
Progar and the Hawkeyes resume conference play this weekend with games at Northwestern on Friday and Michigan on Sunday.