By Michael McCurdy
The Iowa field-hockey team will travel to Columbus, Ohio today for its last regular-season game before the Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa currently sits at No. 5 in the conference standings, making this game a must-win in the words of Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci.
“We’re absolutely stressing the implications for the Big Ten Tournament to the team,” Cellucci said. “And also, the regional rankings for us in the West Region because it is a regional game, so this has big implications for the NCAA Tournament as well. This makes this an absolute win for us.”
Oct. 21 was a very emotional game for the seniors because it was their last contest at Grant Field. Senior Sophie Plasteras said she and the rest of the seniors are not experiencing any emotional hangover and will be ready to go against a very good Ohio State team, because they have no choice.
“That game is definitely behind us now, and we’re focused on beating Ohio State on Thursday and competing well in the Big Ten Tournament,” Plasteras said.
Ohio State comes into the game with a record of 6-10, 1-6 in the conference. From those stats, one could assume this game could be child’s play for the Hawkeyes, but that is not the case.
The Buckeyes have taken some of the Big Ten’s best down to the wire this year. On Sept. 23, they traveled to Ann Arbor and fell short to the Wolverines by a score of 1-0; Iowa lost its game in Ann Arbor, 2-1.
Later in the season, the Buckeyes entered the gauntlet part of their schedule and played Penn State and Maryland back-to-back. They competed with the Nittany Lions for most of the game until they lost, 2-0, and after that took Maryland to overtime but fell short, 2-1.
Senior Chandler Ackers said she has friends on the Ohio State team, and she knows they don’t take games off, so she’s going to try to instill that same motivation in the Hawkeyes.
“I have some friends on the team and they don’t take anything lightly at Ohio State, they work till the last minute,” Ackers said. “They’re definitely out of the conference tournament, but we cannot take them lightly because it is going to be a difficult game regardless. I remember the last time we went to Ohio State we were up 4-0, and they scored two goals at the end in the last five minutes; they just are very resilient.”
Because the Buckeyes are out of the conference tournament, it is a feasible assertion that they have nothing left to play for this season. Cellucci said she thinks otherwise because today happens to be Senior Day for the Buckeyes, and they would love nothing more than to end their season on a high note by upsetting the Hawkeyes.
“Ohio State is actually a lot better than some of the Big Ten teams we’ve already played,” Cellucci said. “They have five or six individually skilled players, some internationals, and they just have come up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. So, we have our work cut out for us, especially because it’s their Senior Day and their last game. They’re going to be playing with a lot of pride, so it will be our job to overcome their high energy.”