The 16th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team (9-5, 1-3) is back in action this weekend as they travel for a pair of conference games. The Hawkeyes will face No. 9 Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois on Friday at 3 p.m. (CT) and will take on No. 12 Michigan at noon (CT) at Phyllis Ocker Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
SCOUTING #9 NORTHWESTERN
Northwestern enters this weekend with a 10-4 overall record and a 4-1 conference mark. The Wildcats are ranked ninth and are tied for first place in the Big Ten standings. Northwestern has three wins over top 10 teams, including wins over then-No. 4 Penn State (5-3) and No. 6 Maryland (3-2). The Wildcats’ four losses came to then-No. 17 Boston College (2-1), No. 4 Duke in overtime (3-2), Indiana (2-1), and then-No. 8 Louisville (2-0). Senior Isabel Flens ranks third in goals in the Big Ten (12). Flens is also ranked fourth in points in the Big Ten (30). Junior Sophie Miller has a team-high nine assists, which also places her third in the Big Ten. Senior goalkeeper Lindsay von der Luft has the third best save percentage in the Big Ten (.753).
IOWA vs. NORTHWESTERN — THE SERIES
• Iowa leads the series, 52-22-4.
• The Hawkeyes are 22-13-2 when facing the Wildcats in Evanston.
• The last time the two teams met was last season. The Hawkeyes lost that match, 4-0, in Evanston, Illinois.
SCOUTING #12 MICHIGAN
Michigan has an 8-5 overall record and a 3-2 conference mark entering this weekend’s action. The Wolverines are ranked 12th and are fourth in the Big Ten. Michigan has defeated then-No.1 North Carolina (1-0) and then-No. 11 Stanford (2-1). All four of the Wolverines’ losses have come to top 10 teams including losses to then-No. 4 Penn State (3-1) and then-No. 8 Maryland (2-1) in overtime. Michigan has Big Ten wins over Michigan State (4-1), Ohio State (1-0), and Rutgers (3-1). Junior goalkeeper Sam Swenson is currently tied for first in the Big Ten with three shutouts. Swenson has the second best goals against average in the Big Ten (1.80) and is eighth in saves (35) and saves per game (3.20).
IOWA vs. MICHIGAN — THE SERIES
• The Hawkeyes lead the series, 40-23.
• Iowa is 17-9 when facing Michigan at Phyllis Ocker Field.
•The Hawkeyes and the Wolverines faced each other twice last season, once in the regular season and also in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan won both matches, defeating the Hawkeyes, 4-0, in the first match, and 1-0 in double overtime in the Big Ten Tournament.
LAST TIME OUT
The 16th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team defeated UC Davis Sunday, 5-0, at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes have now shut out their last two opponents.
“This definitely gave us a lot of momentum,” said UI head coach Lisa Cellucci. “We had a chance to do a lot of things that we wanted to work on for our upcoming games. We unleashed some offense scoring 16 goals on the weekend, and getting two shutouts is great.”
The Hawkeyes got on the board early scoring in the seventh minute. Red shirt senior Natalie Cafone scored her 14th goal of the season when UC Davis turned the ball over and Cafone took the ball down the field and put the ball right under the cross bar to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
Iowa continued its scoring in the 33rd minute when freshman Katie Birch notched her 10th goal of the year. The freshman scored off a corner to give the Hawkeyes a 2-0 lead.
Senior Sophie Plasteras added to the Hawkeyes lead in the 49th minute. UC Davis turned the ball over in front of its own cage, and the senior took advantage of the opportunity to give the home team a 3-0 advantage.
Cafone scored her second goal of the contest in the 55th minute. Cafone had her first shot saved by the UC Davis goalkeeper, but Cafone was able to locate the rebound and put it in the cage. The goal marks Cafone’s 63rd career goal, which moves her into eighth in career goals scored as a Hawkeye.
Iowa rounded out its scoring as time expired. The Hawkeyes were awarded a penalty corner with two seconds remaining and senior Chandler Ackers scored on the play. Junior Melissa Progar and freshman Sophie Sunderland were credited assists on the final goal.
Iowa registered 22 shots and had seven penalty corners. Senior goalkeeper Alexandra Pecora made one save in her third complete shutout of the season.
HAWKEYES SPREAD THE WEALTH
Six different Hawkeyes scored and four different Hawkeyes were credited with assist in Friday’s match against Central Michigan as the Hawkeyes defeated the Chippewas, 11-0. Sunday’s match against UC Davis saw four different Hawkeyes tally goals and three different Hawkeyes register assists in the 5-0 victory. Senior Chandler Ackers recorded a hat trick on Friday, while redshirt senior Natalie Cafone scored two goals in both matches. Senior Sophie Plasteras, and freshman Katie Birch each scored a goal in both matches. Junior Melissa Progar tallied a team-high six assists on the weekend.
Iowa has now beaten two opponents (Saint Louis and Central Michigan), 11-0 this season.
Iowa’s 11 goals and 39 shots against Saint Louis are the second and third most, respectively, by a Big Ten team in a match this season.
Individually, Alexandra Pecora posted back-to-back shutouts against Monmouth and Kent State, and combined with Katie Jones to blank Saint Louis and Central Michigan. Pecora recorded her third shutout of the season in Sunday’s victory over UC Davis. The senior is tied for first in the Big Ten with three shutouts.
Natalie Cafone ranks in the top-10 in a number of statiscal categories in the Big Ten. The Hawkeye senior ranks third in shots per match (4.71), second in points per match (2.71), tied for first in goals per match (1.07), tied for first in goals (15), and leads the Big Ten with 38 points.
Freshman Katie Birch is also in the top-10 in a handful of statistical categories in the Big Ten. The freshman ranks first in shots (70) second in shots per game (5.00), tied for eighth in points (14), and tied for first in game winning goals (3).
Junior Melissa Progar recorded six assists last weekend, four against Central Michigan and two against UC Davis. The junior is second in assists (10) and assists per game (0.71) in the Big Ten.
Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have three players record hat tricks this season. The Hawkeyes are the only team to have two players (Katie Birch and JoElla Guagliardo) record hat tricks in the same game (Saint Louis).
CAFONE MOVES UP IN RANKS
Natailie Cafone scored two goals against Central Michigan and UC Davis last weekend giving her 63 career goals. With the goals Cafone passes former Hawkeye Kell Flanagan (62) and is now eighth all-time in career goals at Iowa. The redshirt senior is now goal behind former Hawkeye Kerry Lassard (64) for seventh.
CAFONE NAMED BIG TEN OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Natalie Cafone has been named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Tuesday. It marks the fourth weekly honor of Cafone’s career and the fourth weekly award for the Hawkeyes this season.
A native of Fairfield, New Jersey, Cafone scored four goals and registered one assist last weekend, helping the Hawkeyes to a pair of shutout wins over Central Michigan (11-0) and UC Davis (5-0). Cafone was dominate in both games, registering five points (two goals, one assist) against Central Michigan and scoring two goals on a team-high 10 shots against UC Davis.
Iowa has won a weekly conference award four times this year. Senior goalkeeper Alexandra Pecora was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 13, while Katie Birch garnered Freshman of the Week accolades on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.
PECORA NAMED NFHCA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (SEPT. 14)
Senior Alexandra Pecora was named Longstreth/NFHCA Division I Player of the Week, the NFHCA office announced on Sept. 14. It marked the first national weekly honor of Pecora’s career.
Pecora, who earned her second career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award on Sept. 13 helped the Hawkeyes post wins over Monmouth (4-0) on Sept. 10 and Kent State (2-0) on Sept.11. The goalkeeper registered back-to-back shutouts, recording one save against Monmouth and six against Kent State.
In her four years at Iowa, the Marlton, New Jersey, native has played in a total of 52 games and accumulated 207 saves. Pecora has six shutouts in her career.
The Hawkeyes welcomed back 14 players, including seniors Chandler Ackers, Natalie Cafone, Sophie Plasteras, and Alexandra Pecora. In addition to the returnees, Iowa welcomed five newcomers to 2016 roster, including Katie Birch (MF/D), Ryley Miller (MF), Isabella Solaroli (MF), Leslie Speight (GK), and Sophie Sunderland (MF).
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 are back in action next weekend as they wrap up regular season play. Iowa will host its last home game of the season on Friday as they face Michigan State at 3 p.m. (CT) at Grant Field. Admission is free. The Hawkeyes will conclude the regular on Sunday when they face Ohio State at 2:30 p.m. (CT) in Columbus, Ohio.
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