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The 15th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team (12-6, 4-4) begins postseason play this week at the Big Ten Tournament hosted by the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes will take on fourth-seeded and 12th-ranked Northwestern (12-7, 5-3) in the opening round on Thursday at 4:30 pm (CT). The winner of Thursday’s match advances to face Maryland or Rutgers in the semifinals on Friday at 3 p.m. (CT).
BTN will provide live television coverage of the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game of the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament.
FOLLOW ON THE WEB
Iowa field hockey fans can follow all contest via live stats on hawkeyesports.com. Click on the “Live Stats” link found on the field hockey schedule page to access the live stats feed. Fans can also follow @IowaFieldHockey on Twitter for live in-game updates.
HAWKEYES IN THE B1G TOURNAMENT
The Hawkeyes have won five Big Ten Tournament titles (1981, 1994, 2006, 2007, 2008) in program history, including three-straight from 2006-08. Iowa joins Penn State and Michigan as the only schools to win five or more tournament titles. Iowa is 29-18 (.617) all-time in the conference tournament. The 29 wins are the most by any Big Ten school. In 2015, the Hawkeyes fell to eventual tournament runner up Michigan, 2-1, in overtime in the quarterfinals.
Northwestern enters the Big Ten Tournament as the fourth seed. The Wildcats are ranked 12th nationally with a 12-7 overall record and a 5-3 conference mark. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten in shots (323), points (203), assists (63), and assists per game (3.32). Northwestern registered wins over three top-10 opponents this season defeating No. 8 Boston College (2-1), No. 4 Penn State (5-3), and No. 6 Maryland (3-2). The Wildcats suffered Big Ten losses to Indiana (2-1), Iowa (2-1) in overtime, and Michigan (3-2) in overtime. Senior Isabel Flens is ranked third in goals (15) and fourth in points (40) in the Big Ten. Junior Sophia Miller is tied for third in assists (11) and redshirt freshman Kristen Mansfield is ranked fourth (10) in the Big Ten. Senior goalkeeper Lindsay van der Luft has the third-best save percentage (.748) and the fourth-best goals against average (2.17) in the Big Ten.
IOWA VS. NORTHWESTERN — THE SERIES
• The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 56-22-4.
• Iowa is 6-2 when facing Northwestern at neutral sites.
• This will be the second match of the year between Iowa and Northwestern. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 2-1, in overtime on Oct. 14 in Evanston, Illinois.
• The last time these two met in the Big Ten Tournament was 2014. Northwestern defeated Iowa, 2-1, in Ann Arbor Michigan.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING — INDIVIDUAL STATS
• Natalie Cafone currently leads the Big Ten in goals (20), goals per game (1.11), shots (87), shots per game (4.83), and points (48).
• Cafone is also ranked second in the Big Ten in points per game (2.94) and is tied for eighth in assists (8).
• Cafone ranks fifth nationally in goals per game (1.11) and sixth nationally in points per game (2.67).
• Katie Birch has the second most shots (83) and the third most shots per game (4.61) in the Big Ten.
• Birch is tied for sixth in goals (12) in the Big Ten.
• Melissa Progar is second in assists (12) and third in assists per game (0.67) in the conference. Progar also ranks 15th in assists per game nationally.
• Alexandra Pecora is tied for first in shutouts (3) and has the third best goal against average in the Big Ten.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING — TEAM STATS
• Iowa defeated 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.
• Iowa is third in points (176) in the Big Ten and eighth in points per game (9.78) nationally
• Iowa’s 63 goals ranks them third in the Big Ten and ninth nationally in goals per game (3.50)
• The Hawkeyes are ranked third in assists (50) in the Big Ten and 10th nationally (2.78) in assists per game.
• Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have four 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).
LAST TIME OUT
The 15th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team defeated Ohio State, 3-2, in its regular season finale Thursday. The Hawkeyes scored three unanswered goals in the comeback victory. Thursday’s game marks the fourth one-goal win for the Hawkeyes.
HAWKEYES UPSET NORTHWESTERN IN OVERTIME
The Hawkeyes upset No. 9 Northwestern, 2-1, in overtime Friday, Oct. 14. Freshman Sophie Sunderland scored the gaming-winning goal in the victory. The Wildcats got on the board first scoring in the 19th minute to give Northwestern a 1-0 lead. Freshman Katie Birch scored off a corner in the 38th minute to tie the game. Both teams registered five shots in the second half, but solid defense and goalkeeping keep the game tied at the end of regulation.
Despite starting the overtime period short one player due to a green card in the 68th minute, the Hawkeyes found a way to score. Sunderland scored the game-winning goal in the 71stminute when she deflected Birch’s shot off of a corner to secure the 2-1 victory for the Hawkeyes.
HAWKEYES FINISH STRONG
The University of Iowa field hockey team has won five out of its last six matches, including three Big Ten wins over No. 9 Northwester (2-1) in overtime, Michigan State (5-3), and Ohio State (3-2). The late season push improved Iowa’s record to 12-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten.
CAFONE MOVES UP IN RANKS
Natalie Cafone scored the game-winning goal Thursday against Ohio State giving her 68 career goals. Cafone is now tied with former Hawkeye Ellen Egan for sixth all-time. The redshirt senior is seven goals behind Liz Tchou (75) for fifth.
CAFONE SCORES HAT TRICK IN FINAL HOME GAME
Cafone’s hat trick against Michigan State marked the third three-goal game of her career and first of the season. Cafone became the fourth Hawkeye to post a hat trick this season (Katie Birch, Chandler Acker, and JoElla Guagliardo). Iowa is the only Big Ten team to have four players record hat tricks this season. The Hawkeyes are also the only team to have two players (Katie Birch and JoElla Guagliardo) record hat tricks in the same game (Saint Louis).
CAFONE NAMED BIG TEN CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Oct. 25)
University of Iowa field hockey redshirt senior Natalie Cafone has been named Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Oct. 25. It marks the fifth weekly honor of Cafone’s career and second of the season.
A native of Fairfield, New Jersey, Cafone scored a hat trick in Iowa’s, 5-3, Senior Day win on Oct. 21. It marked the third hat trick of her career and the first of the season. Cafone leads the Big Ten in points (46), shots (85), shots per match (5), goals per match (1.12), goals (19), and is second in points per match (2.71).
Iowa has won a weekly conference award six times this season. Senior goalkeeper Alexandra Pecora was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 13, Katie Birch garnered back-to-back Freshman of the Week accolades on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6, Cafone earned her first Offensive Player of the Week honors on Oct. 11, and freshman Sophie Sunderland was named Co-Freshman of the Week on Oct. 18.
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.
LINK UP WITH THE HAWKEYES
For an inside look at the Iowa field hockey program and to access exclusive coverage, “like” The University of Iowa Field Hockey Team on Facebook and follow @IowaFieldHockey on Twitter and Instagram.