Field hockey must have 2 wins

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Field hockey must have 2 wins

Iowa forward Stephanie Norlander prepares to hit the ball at Grant Field on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Flashes 7-1. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

Iowa forward Stephanie Norlander prepares to hit the ball at Grant Field on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Flashes 7-1. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

Iowa forward Stephanie Norlander prepares to hit the ball at Grant Field on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Flashes 7-1. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

Iowa forward Stephanie Norlander prepares to hit the ball at Grant Field on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Flashes 7-1. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

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The Iowa field-hockey team will host Michigan State and Ohio State.

By Mario Williams

[email protected]

To keep its conference tournament hopes alive, the Iowa field-hockey team will have to make changes quickly.

After winning just two (both nonconference) of their last five games, the Hawkeyes will return home to compete against Michigan State today and Ohio State on Oct. 18.

It’s been a rough go for the team in conference play because of Iowa’s lack of depth.

Despite the circumstances, the players are ready to return to the field where they believe they perform the best.

The program is 4-1 at home and playing three of their last four games at Grant Field could benefit them.

“Grant is very special to us,” Iowa assistant coach Michael Boal said. “There’s always an added spice in the girls whenever they get the chance to play at home. That’s something that we look forward to and enjoy seeing, really.”

The Hawkeyes have found themselves in less than ideal circumstances week in and week out this season. This weekend’s scenario doesn’t seem to be much different.

The Spartans are sixth in the conference, and the Buckeyes are in third. Both sit higher in the conference than Iowa, which is seventh. The Hawkeyes also dropped out of the coaches’ poll, something that hasn’t happened to the program in years.

The Buckeyes are 3-1 in conference play, and the Spartans are 2-3.

“Across the board, both teams are very physical,” Boal said. “These are the games we look forward to because they’re tough, and if you end up with the victory, it always gives you that little edge for the next competition.”

He classified Michigan State as a powerful, direct, and forceful threat to the program. Ohio State may be more on the side of still developing after last season.

Boal said both teams are going to be a true test.

If the Hawks don’t come out on top, the team will fall to 1-5 in conference play and possibly drop even lower in the Big Ten. It will also mark their sixth- and seventh-consecutive losses in against Big Ten opponents. The team hasn’t beaten a conference opponent since Rutgers on Sept. 18, nearly a month ago.

The idea of possibly not making the conference tournament in Bloomington, Indiana, is something that concerns a few players.

“Both wins are must-win, and we need them to get back up there in the conference,” junior Stephanie Norlander said. “Even thinking about possibly not going to the Big Ten Tournament is terrible. We’re going to win these games this weekend to make sure we get there.”

This weekend will be Iowa’s biggest test yet. To keep their hopes alive for a slot in Indiana, defending their home turf, and competing how the Hawkeyes know they can will be imperative.

They start off with defending their circle and not giving up 13 goals, as they did on the road in Big Ten play.

“We need to have a stronger defensive mindset,” junior Chandler Ackers said. “If we have a bigger presence and treat the 25 like a circle, I think we’ll be better off in our Big Ten games.”

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