IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 15th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team defeated Michigan State, 5-3, on “Senior Day”. Red shirt senior Natalie Cafone scored a hat trick in her final game at Grant Field.
“We played very well the first 55 minutes of the game,” said UI head Coach Lisa Cellucci. “We needed to clean up that last half, but we’ll learn from it.”
Cafone’s hat trick is the third of her career and first of the season. Cafone becomes the fourth different Hawkeye to post a hat trick this season (Katie Birch, Chandler Acker, and JoElla Guagliardo).
Iowa (11-6, 3-4) got out to a quick start scoring the first three goals in the first 20 minutes. Cafone scored her first goal of the game in the 11th minute. Cafone beat a few Michigan State defenders and beat the Spartans’ goaltender from the right side of the cage to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
Cafone struck again in the 18th minute. The senior took the ball down the left side of the field, beating a handful of Spartan defenders, and shot the ball to the back post to give the Hawkeyes a 2-0 advantage.
Cafone completed the hat trick in the 20th minute when she scored on a one-timer from the center of the circle. Senior Sophie Plasteras made a nice pass across the circle and Cafone put the ball into a wide open cage. Cafone now has 67 career goals, which gives her sole possession of seventh all-time in program history for goals in a career. The native of Fairfield, New Jersey is only one goal away from tying former Hawkeye Ellen Egan (68) for sixth.
Freshman Sophie Sunderland extended Iowa’s led to four goals in the 26th minute. Sunderland forced a turnover then beat the visiting goalkeeper to give the Hawkeyes a 4-0 halftime lead. The Hawkeyes tallied five shots on goal the first 35 minutes, scoring on four of those attempts.
Plasteras continued the scoring for the Hawkeyes in the 53rd minute. After her first shot was saved, Plasteras was able to locate her own rebound and put the second chance in the cage to put the Hawkeyes in front 5-0.
Michigan State (7-9, 3-4) scored three late goals to make the final score, 5-3.
Iowa totaled 16 shots with Cafone leading the way with eight. Senior goalkeeper Alexandra Pecora made three saves in the win. Pecora now has 11 wins on the season.
The Hawkeyes finish their regular season next Thursday as they take on Ohio State at 2:30 (CT) in Columbus Ohio.
“We need to work on our counter defense structure and get better in practice this week because Ohio State has good speed and some dangerous players,” added Cellucci.