Field hockey shines in ACC split


Iowa midfielder Chandler Ackers hits the ball at Grant Field on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Iowa fell to Maryland, 2-1, in double overtime. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

By Michael McCurdy

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The Iowa field-hockey team traveled to North Carolina this past weekend for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and played two extremely talented teams, No. 7 Wake Forest and No. 1 North Carolina.

In the first mach, Aug. 27 against Wake Forest, the Hawks came out victorious in a 2-1 barn-burner.

Iowa demonstrated its early attack mindset when Natalie Cafone scored the game’s first goal seven minutes in on a corner shot assisted by Melissa Progar and Makenna Grewe. Then, 13 minutes later, senior Chandler Ackers’ took a turn to get into the scoring book with her first goal of the season assisted by freshman Katie Birch.

The Hawks took four shots in the first half and scored on two, which displayed their offensive efficiency and teamwork.

Head coach Lisa Cellucci could not be happier about her team’s impressive offensive efficiency.

“That was a great team win over the seventh-ranked team in the country; we really capitalized on all of our offensive opportunities,” Cellucci said in a release.

Although the Hawks were scoreless in the second half, they still came out on top thanks to the great play of senior goalkeeper Alexandra Pecora, who collected 2 saves. She did her job, along with the rest of the team, which resulted in Cellucci being very pleased with the defensive effort.

The next day, Iowa faced off against No. 1 North Carolina, a tall task for sure, but the Hawks, confidence level elevated after upsetting No. 7 Wake Forest, so they were not going to back down. North Carolina started the game off in attack form, quickly scoring goals in the 11th and 30th minute. Although North Carolina scored 2 first half goals to Iowa’s 0, Pecora still played tremendous defense, only giving up those 2 goals on North Carolina’s seven shots.

The Hawks were down 2-0 at half, resulting in some much-needed halftime adjustments by Cellucci, and as a result, Cafone scored one minute in.

“Being down 2 goals at halftime was a challenge,” said Cellucci in a release. “We made tactical adjustments at half and were able to get an early goal.”

After 20 more minutes of a close, intense game between the two schools, North Carolina got some insurance points by adding on 2 more goals before the final buzzer, securing a 4-1 win.

“North Carolina is an outstanding team and deserve its No. 1 ranking,” said Cellucci in a release. “Our inability to win the 50-50 balls and our lack of depth got the best of us late in the second half.”

After the opening weekend, it is clear the Hawks are for real this year. They competed in both games against two of the top programs in the country, and if it wasn’t for the lack of depth and fatigue, Iowa could have left the weekend with a 2-0 record.

Cellucci said she understands the Hawks will struggle with the lack of depth all year, but because it was only opening weekend and they almost overcame the daunting opening schedule, the problem appears to be diminishing sooner than expected.

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