Seven new recruits set to join strong 2020 Iowa field hockey lineup

The Hawkeyes are poised to make another NCAA Tournament run.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa midfielder Nikki Freeman runs with the ball during a field hockey game between Iowa and Duke at Grant Field on Sunday, September 15, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Blue Devils, 2-1 after two overtime periods.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

The Iowa field hockey team is adding seven new recruits to its already strong lineup.

The 2019 team had a productive season, going 17-5 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten. The team was the Big Ten regular season and tournament champions and made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina.

Although the team graduated impactful seniors like midfielder and defender Katie Birch and goalkeeper Leslie Speight, assistant coach Michael Boal said he is excited to add the new freshmen to the mix.

“Each season, we graduate some talented seniors, but you’re always excited to see the new team develop and evolve,” Boal said. “Each year brings around a new identity and a new group of people with new leadership and different talents.”

The new recruits already have a slew of accolades under their belt.

Alex Wesneski from Forty-Fort, Pennsylvania, was a part of the U17 United States National Field Hockey Team, and Mary Jane McNary from Glenview, Illinois, was the MVP of her team in both 2017 and 2018. Kelly Rose from Ashburn, Virginia, was also a two-time junior Olympian.

Multiple members of the freshmen class were part of the National Futures Championship during their high school careers as well. Amelia Williams, from Houston, Texas, played in the championship in 2017 and 2019. Sophia Mackrella from Oley Valley, Pennsylvania, and Sammy Freeman from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, were four-time National Futures Championship members.

Sammy Freeman is also the younger sister of senior midfielder Nikki Freeman, adding another sister duo to the team along with Sophie and Lokke Stribos.

“As a class, they offer us a lot of different dynamics,” Boal said. “They’re an exceptional group, and first and foremost, they’re awesome people.”

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In the recruiting process, the coaches take a look at the person first, and the player second.

Boal said that in addition to looking at how the athletes will be able to help the team on the field, they look at how they would fit in with the rest of the team and the program’s values.

Recruiting new members to the team can be difficult, since a majority of recruits are on the east coast and far away from home, Boal said. He also emphasized the importance of having the athletes visit Iowa City, so they can get a feel for the campus and the program.

A majority of the team is already on campus for voluntary workouts before official practices start on August 11. The upperclassmen of the team have been using the time to integrate the freshmen and get to know them better.

“It’s been really awesome so far to get to know [the freshmen] on and off the field,” senior midfielder Nikki Freeman said. “I think that as a team we are already gelling really well and will continue to do that.”

Only the strength and conditioning coach is allowed to be with the athletes during voluntary workouts, but Boal said he is excited to be able to work with the freshmen and the rest of the team when official practices start. He is optimistic about the talent that the freshmen will bring to an already Big Ten Championship-caliber team.

“We’re returning a large majority of our Big Ten tournament, Big Ten regular season champions, and a big reason our athletes are here is because they want to have that success again,” Boal said. “We’re really looking forward to see how far we can go.”

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