Iowa field hockey gears up to host two top-25 teams this weekend

No. 10 Iowa Women’s Field Hockey team battles No. 6 Michigan and No. 21 Stanford at undefeated Grant Field this weekend.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Ellie Holley prepares a shot during a field hockey match between Iowa and Dartmouth College at Grant Field on Friday, August 31, 2018. The Hawkeyes shut out the Big Green, 6-0.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

The Iowa field-hockey team has protected Grant Field well so far this season.

With wins already posted over Dartmouth, Ball State, Penn, and Indiana, the Hawkeyes will try to continue their undefeated home record against No. 6 Michigan and No. 21 Stanford this weekend.

“We always talk about defending Grant Field,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “I think there’s a lot of energy. The girls get really excited, and the goal is to always make sure opponents leave not very happy. We have to be just as good on the road, but there’s definitely a different feeling when we’re at home. It’s something we’ve focused on for years.”

Iowa will play the Wolverines at 3 p.m. today, then battle No. 21 Stanford at 2 p.m. Oct. 7.

On Sept. 28, sophomore midfielder Ellie Holley scored a goal against Michigan State in Iowa’s 4-0 win, becoming the 11th Hawkeye to score this season. She takes pride in playing on Grant Field.

“[Playing on Grant Field] is an honor,” she said. “You have to deserve and earn your space on that field. I think when you step on it, you leave everything behind. You’re playing for Iowa, you’re playing for the Hawkeyes. Especially coming from England, it’s huge — it’s incredible, and it’s an opportunity you don’t take for granted.”

The Hawkeyes tallied their sixth shutout last weekend against Michigan State on the road, doubling the number of shutouts they had all last season. Coming off a dominant 2-0 weekend on the road will give Iowa momentum, along with the added advantage of playing at home.

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“When you step over that line with your teammates behind and in front of you, it’s just a feeling that can’t be explained,” senior Isabella Brown said.

Michigan has a record of 8-4 and leads the conference, winning four of its five Big Ten matchups, losing only to No. 3 Maryland. Senior Emma Way leads the Wolverines with 13 goals this season, the best in the Big Ten.

In the last eight matchups between Michigan and Iowa, the Wolverines have prevailed. On average, Michigan scores 3 goals per game, while Iowa’s average goals-per-game allowed is .64.

“Defensive organization on free hits is what we’re going to work on,” Holley said. “[The Wolverines are] going to take their balls really fast, so we need to set up quickly, leaving no one free. [We need to] really make sure we’re getting behind the ball and working as a team. I think the game on Friday is going to massively be about how we play as a team and not individually.”

No. 21 Stanford lost its first 3 matches, but it is now on a seven-game winning streak. It has outscored its opponents this season 34-4, with sophomore Corinne Zanolli scoring 15 goals and tallying 5 assists. Last season, the Hawkeyes lost to Stanford, 3-2, on the road.

“Michigan and Stanford are great teams,” Cellucci said. “We have to be able to command our skill. [We have to] create strength on the ball so we can handle the pressure they bring, and we need to play great team defense and get organized, because they thrive on the counterattack.”

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