By Michael McCurdy
Today at 3 p.m., the Iowa field hockey team will host 7-8 Michigan State at Grant Field.
The Spartans overall record might not be as impressive as the Hawkeyes’ (10-6), but they do possess a better conference record, 3-3 compared with Iowa’s 2-4. As a result, this game has major implications on the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and its seeding.
The game also happens to be Senior Day for the Hawkeyes, which creates a challenge for the seniors to stay focused on the important game knowing it will be their last contest at home.
Senior Sophie Plasteras said she expects to be emotional for the game, but once the first horn sounds, it is go time.
“It’s definitely going to be emotional because I never really thought the day would actually come, and to have my parents there in the stands will make it a lot of fun,” Plasteras said. “But once the game gets going, my attention will quickly shift to that and then, after we hopefully win, the celebration can begin.”
The Spartans come into the game with Big Ten wins against Indiana, Rutgers, and Ohio State. They are a respectable team who should not be overlooked. Senior Alexandra Pecora said the defense must maintain control of the game.
“They definitely thrive on their transition and momentum,” Pecora said. “So we have to be able to really control the tempo of the game, and when we sense them picking up momentum, we must take the game back under control by slowing things down; just buckling in and controlling the chaos a little bit.”
The Hawkeyes are coming off one of their best weekends of the season, upsetting top dog Northwestern in overtime and competing until the end against a quality Michigan squad on the road. Iowa played well on the road against two great teams, something it has displayed all season.
But the Hawkeyes have struggled this season in beating tough competition at home. It started with the Penn State loss, in which Iowa saw its 3-0 lead slip away. Then Maryland came to town, and Iowa competed with the Big Ten’s best up until the end; the Terrapins closed the game out on a 2-0 run.
Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci has a positive outlook on this game and the rest of season because if the Hawkeyes come out ready to play, they could wind up in a great spot in Big Ten Tournament seeding.
“Michigan State is a must-win for us for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament,” Cellucci said. “If we can win this game and beat Ohio State, we could be as high as fourth in the Big Ten tournament. If we lose one we could potentially drop to seventh or eighth, so we’re aiming for the two big wins.”