By Michael McCurdy
For the second week in a row, the Iowa field hockey team has played equal to its opponents when it comes to game statistics, but as is common in sports, that does not always translate to positive results.
The Hawkeyes have gone 1-3 in their last four contests.
So, that raises the question — what is going wrong for the Hawkeyes? It’s a problem Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci hopes to figure out soon, because half of the season is in the books.
Let’s take a look at a couple areas of interest.
Iowa’s offensive production this year on paper has been very impressive. The team is averaging 16.5 shots on goal per game, compared with their opponents 9.5. Now, these stats might be a little skewed by Iowa’s dominant win over St. Louis (11-0), but even without that game, Iowa still is performing very efficiently on offense this year.
Because Iowa has been consistent offensively, it is difficult to know how they went 1-3 in these last two weeks. Getting lots of shot opportunities is only half of the equation; the other part is execution.
These past two weeks the Hawkeyes have had numerous moments in crunch time where they could have won the game with a goal.
Against No. 4 Penn State, the Hawkeyes started the game off hot, capitalizing on their shot -on- goal opportunities in thefirst half, but when it mattered in the second half, the women failed to find the net.
When No. 5 Maryland came to town, the Hawkeyes were in a similar situation, being tied 2-2 with roughly eight minutes left. After Maryland scored to take the lead, Iowa attacked downfield and had a great look at the net on Natalie Cafone slap shot, but senior Sophie Plasteras was unable to execute and score.
The stats are consistent; right now, the Hawkeyes are unable to score goals in crunch time. This is something the team can fix with the right spacing and passing, and it is only a matter of time before they figure it out.
Freshmen logging lots of minutes
The freshmen on the team have logged some critical minutes so far, averaging around 55 per game. Katie Birch is leading the freshmen, playing roughly 93 percent of the 75-minute games.
Birch plays an important role on the team, being one of the most experienced players because of her international play. She is a leader other players can look up to because she knows so much about the game.
She is not the only freshman who has a direct impact on the outcome of games; Sophie Sunderland plays roughly 81 percent of the 75 minutes, and Isabella Solaroli plays 41 percent.
The Hawkeyes rely heavily on underclassmen to affect each game. Iowa’s recent struggles can be directly linked back to its youth, because a lot of its mistakes right now are spacing and team passing — parts of the game that take time to pick up.