IOWA CITY, Iowa — After a stellar ride in 2018, the No. 8 University of Iowa field hockey team sets its sights on an exciting, yet challenging 2019 season. The Hawkeyes face 10 top-25 opponents throughout the season, including three of their first six games against top-10 opponents.
The 2018 season left a determined team behind, setting the standard for the upcoming season. The program’s 14 wins are the most since 2011, reaching the Big Ten Tournament Championship against Maryland, and earning its 23 NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
Last year gave the Hawkeyes a glimpse at what is possible for the 2019 season.
“There’s a lot of excitement this year. We finished the season ranked seventh in the country last year and had some fantastic results,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “There’s a lot of excitement as we return a core group of people and add a great group of newcomers.”
Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament run was a great learning experience moving forward for the returners. Making the NCAA tournament last fall also provided the base for this season.
“We needed this group to experience [the tournament] so we have the opportunity to be savvy if or when we get into that situation,” Cellucci said. “Hopefully, we can advance further, but the experience they gained from being in those tough games where our backs were against the wall; we were able to finish and find a way. That’s going to prove us in a great way for this fall.”
Hopes are high for the Hawkeyes as they return a bulk of their starting lineup and introduce four newcomers on the roster. The team’s depth and experience will carry over this season in their matchups against ranked opponents, including 2018 National Champion North Carolina and Wake Forest, who reached the NCAA Final Four last season.
“We’re going to keep taking every opportunity that we can and keep pushing through,” senior midfielder Katie Birch said. “We’ve been working so hard this summer, and we’re ready to show it off. We have to face the best to be the best.”
Junior midfielder Ellie Holley echoed her teammate and coach when talking about moving forward this season.
“Every game, every practice, we’re trying to get better,” Holley said. “We’re excited for this year’s schedule, but we’re taking it one step at a time.”
The Hawkeyes open their season at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, facing No. 10 Wake Forest on August 30 and No. 1 North Carolina on September 1.