Iowa field hockey heads East for weekend matchups

The Iowa field hockey team takes on Providence and New Hampshire this weekend.


David Harmantas

Iowa's Sophie Sunderland chases after the ball during the Iowa-University of New Hampshire field hockey match on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. Iowa defeated UNH by a final score of 7-1.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

With a 3-1 record and a No. 14 national ranking, the Iowa field-hockey team will travel to Durham, New Hampshire, this weekend to take on Providence and New Hampshire.

After spending the past weekend at home, it will be a small change for the Hawkeyes.

“We travel a whole day early, so we have a day to rest and recover, hydrate, and sleep well,” junior captain Sophie Sunderland said. “On Thursday, we have time to practice to get used to the turf.”

Providence is 2-3 this season, beating Brown and Bryant. In the six previous meetings, the Hawkeyes have not lost to the Friars, beating them most recently 4-1 in 2011.

In the last two games, the Hawkeyes have allowed just 1 shot to be put into the net. Junior goalkeeper Leslie Speight has 23 saves, the second most in the Big Ten, and she sports a .852 save percentage, also the second best in the Big Ten.

Iowa has outscored its opponents 10-4 this season. Senior defender Isabella Brown believes the opposing team shouldn’t put anything in the back of the net this weekend.

“[We need to have] really strong individual defense, keeping the ball out of our defensive 25 and outside of the middle — we are going to play out wide,” Brown said. “There shouldn’t be any goals — we’re going to keep it to zero next time.”

The Hawkeyes will take on New Hampshire — which has a record of 1-2 — at noon on Sept. 9. The Wildcats won their season-opener against Massachusetts but have failed to record another victory. The Hawkeyes went 1-1 against New Hampshire last year, winning the second game in a runaway, 7-1.

Offensively, the Hawkeyes excelled against Dartmouth and Ball State last weekend, finishing with 13 goals.

Katie Birch and Maddy Murphy have each scored 4 goals this season, second in the Big Ten. As a team, Iowa has a .706 shot-on-goal percentage. Birch and Sunderland had back-to-back hat tricks on Sept. 2 and Sunday for only the third time in the last five years for the Hawkeyes.

“I think we created a lot more attacking opportunities, and I think that’s something we really focused on during that week in practice,” Sunderland said.

The Hawkeyes plan to focus on themselves and improving their game as a team. If they are able to accomplish this, they have a solid chance to return to the Midwest with a record of 5-1.

“The biggest thing for us is just to continue to take care of ourselves and focus on what we need to do to get better as a team — which really, for this weekend, it’s being able to value the ball and really maintain possession,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We’re giving away way too many balls in transition, so we want to make sure we connect as a group and then continue to put on relentless defense and pressure.”

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