Hawkeye field hockey looks to bounce back on road

The No. 13 Iowa field hockey team takes on Michigan State and No. 23 Ohio State this weekend.


David Harmantas

Iowa’s Sophie Sunderland chases down the ball during a game against Ball State on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cardinals 7–1.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

The Iowa field hockey team will test the condition of the Big Ten road this weekend with games against Michigan State and No. 23 Ohio State.

The Hawkeyes will play the Spartans in East Lansing today at 3 p.m. before traveling to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes at noon Sept. 30.

There is room for improvement for the Hawkeyes; they have a 4-2 record away from Grant Field.

“[Traveling is] just part of being in the Big Ten,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We’re travel warriors for sure. I think that it actually helps us when we get into the postseason because [traveling] doesn’t faze our team. We talk a lot about rest, recovery, and sleep, and we’re ready to perform either way.”

Michigan State is 0-3 in the Big Ten, 4-7 overall, and Iowa has topped Michigan State in the last three matches between the squads. In last season’s game, the Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 7-1.

Ohio State is 5-5 overall, 1-2 in conference play, but the Buckeyes have defeated three ranked teams: Louisville, BU, and Rutgers. Last year, Maddy Murphy scored the only goal of the game, leading Iowa to a 1-0 victory. The Hawkeyes have a 47-14 all-time record against the Buckeyes.

“We were all pretty disappointed with our loss [last week] against Northwestern,” junior Sophie Sunderland said. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We just got to stick to the game plan both games, play a full 70 minutes, and really execute in the circle.”

Iowa was on a long hot-streak heading into last weekend, but No. 14 Northwestern broke the Hawkeyes’ six-game winning streak.

“The away game was definitely pretty disappointing for us as a team because we have been doing so well, but I think we learned our lesson,” sophomore Maddy Murphy said. “We weren’t really prepared with everything going on in school, and we were feeling a bit fatigued. But we realized this weekend when we work as a team, and have that mindset, that we are such a better team, and we are capable of pretty much anything.”

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Goalkeeper Leslie Speight continues to play an integral role for the Hawkeyes. She leads the Big Ten in shutouts (5), save percentage (.833), and average goals against (0.69).

“She’s of the utmost importance to our team right now, only having one goalkeeper with the injury to Grace McGuire,” Cellucci said. “She’s had to have a lot of composure, poise, and every day be able to bring her ‘A’ game. That’s a lot of pressure, but she’s handled it really well, and she’s really done a good job of communicating and organizing the defense. I couldn’t be happier with where she is right now.”

The Hawkeyes are now 8-2 and have only lost to ranked opponents North Carolina and Northwestern. Following the weekend, Iowa will have four-consecutive matches at Grant Field, where it is undefeated.

“Sitting at 8-2, we couldn’t be any happier; we would’ve liked to get the game against Northwestern, but we feel really good right now,” Cellucci said. “We have one game left against an unranked team, and every other game is going to be big-time. Even Friday will be, too. We feel good where we are, and we’ve been getting better, progressing, so that’s the best part about it.”

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