Blast from the Past: 2004 Championship Anniversary

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a five-part series recognizing the University of Iowa field hockey championship season anniversaries. The first installment looks at the Hawkeye’s 2004 team, celebrating 15 years since they won the regular season Big Ten Championships.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 2004 season saw the University of Iowa return to where it felt it belonged – the top of the Big Ten and at the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes posted a 13-8 record, including a 5-1 mark in the Big Ten that earned the team its 14th conference title overall.
Iowa saw tough competition right out of the gate, dropping a pair of games to Wake Forest and North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Iowa then saw the Tarheels in their third game of the year at the Temple Tournament, and fell 1-0 in a hard-fought contest.
“We started the season 1-4,” 2004 senior captain Sarah Dawson said. “It was my senior year, and I felt like all hope was lost. When we started Big Ten play and started to have these crazy wins versus Michigan and Penn State, I thought, ‘Wow, anything is really possible.’ I am not sure if I ever felt as inspired by a turn of events as I did that season.”
The Hawkeyes won three of their next five games, topping Temple (5-1), Ohio (3-1), and New Hampshire (5-0), while losing to Stanford (1-5) and Northwestern (0-1, 2OT) in a non-conference game.
With their record at just 3-5 heading into the Big Ten season, the Hawkeyes went on a tear, winning 10 of their next 11. Iowa kicked off the conference season with a 4-1 win over Indiana, then Ohio State 2-0.
Iowa picked up its biggest win of the season with a come-from-behind overtime victory over No. 8 Michigan. Trailing 3-0 at the half, the Hawkeyes rallied in the second period to send the game to overtime. There Kadi Sickel buried a pass from Heather Schnepf to end the game.
The Hawkeyes carried that momentum into Happy Valley, where they bested Penn State, 2-1, in double overtime. With the game tied at 1-1 in the second overtime, Sickel struck again with her second game-winner in a week.
The win streak came to an end in East Lansing, Michigan, when Iowa dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans.
The Hawkeyes got right back on the winning track at Grant Field, clinching a share of the Big Ten Championship with a 3-2 win against Northwestern.
“The 2004 championship was the culmination of several years of hard work from a talented group of Hawkeyes,” senior captain Barbara Weinberg said. “Guided by our fantastic coaching staff, our team dynamic that year made us competitive, gritty, and fearless on the field.  We were hungry to win a championship and we had the confidence to know we could beat any team we faced.  It was an honor to be a leader on that team.” 
The team headed into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 2 seed and defeated Northwestern in overtime, 3-2, in the first round. The Hawkeyes then avenged their lone Big Ten loss with a 1-0 overtime win over the fifth-ranked Spartans in the semifinals.
In the championship final, Michigan ended Iowa’s tournament run with a 3-2 win.
The Hawkeyes were awarded an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and faced seventh-ranked American University in College Park, Maryland. Iowa played a tough game, but ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision, ending the 2004 season.
The Hawkeyes’ success allowed them to rack up postseason awards, led by Dawson and Weinberg, who were each named first team All-Americans by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
Dawson led the Hawkeyes in every offensive category, posting 12 goals, 10 assists, 34 points, and 76 shots on goal. Weinberg once again proved herself as the premier goalkeeper in the country, posting a 13-8 record with a .793 save percentage and 1.60 goals against average. She recorded four shutouts.
In the Big Ten, Iowa had five athletes earn all-conference honors, and head coach Tracey Griesbaum was named Coach of the Year.
Weinberg and Dawson were each named to the first team, while Debbie Birrell, Heather Schnepf, and Lauren Stiver were all named to the second team.
“My teammates and coaches that had such an impact on my life,” Weinberg said. “They are still some of my best friends and mentors that I can count on anytime. Hawks are for life.”