By Taylor McNitt
This weekend, the Iowa field hockey team will be taking on three teams from California.
The first will be against Stanford this afternoon at 4 p.m., the second will be at 12 p.m. on Sunday against California, and the third will be on Sept. 4 at 12 p.m. against UC Davis.
Even with a full weekend of facing opponents, the Hawkeyes feel ready for it.
“[This weekend gives] us great tools on video that we can debrief and show [the new players] examples of even how to be better going into next weekend, because we’re playing another top twelve team next weekend in Stanford,” Head coach Lisa Cellucci said.
Stanford ended the 2016 season ranked 12th and currently sits at no. 13, creating a prime top-20 matchup with the No. 17 Hawkeyes.
Iowa leads the all-time series against Stanford, 12-8, but lost against Stanford, 3-2, last time they faced off in 2015.
The Cardinal returns their star goalkeeper, sophomore Kelsey Bing, who ranked second in NCAA in goals against average and sixth in saves percentage.
This means that Iowa goalscorers face a tougher challenge when getting the ball in the back of the net, inspiring the Hawkeye defense to keep the score low.
Sunday could be a different story.
The Hawks lead the all-time series against California, 10-1, and the Golden Bears ended the 2016 season with a 5-13 record.
Sept. 4’s contest against UC Davis gives Iowa an opportunity for offense fireworks.
The Hawkeyes are undefeated against the Aggies, and the last time they faced off, Iowa crushed UC Davis 5-0.
Adding insult to injury, the Aggies finished out the 2016 season with a 5-13 record and lost their top five goalscorers. The UC Davis field hockey team does sport a new head coach, but how much this will impact the results of Monday’s game is up in the air.
The Hawkeyes, however, are confident in wins for all three games this coming weekend and about their season as a whole, even after their winless weekend against Wake Forest and North Carolina.
“We have a lot of newcomers, but a few returners that know our standards, our expectations here at Iowa field hockey, and our goal is to always be prepared to play in a tournament and win,” Cellucci said. “It’s no different this year. Granted, we started out 0-2, but we play one of the toughest schedules in the country, so we get more points losing to those teams than beating an unranked team. We just have some things we have to clean up to help us progress forward.”
Cleanup will set Iowa back on track to its winning ways, specifically against a team with Stanford’s talent.
Cellucci’s confidence in the success of that turnaround is contagious, and her players believe her message.
“I think that the team that we have has a lot of talent,” senior Melissa Progar said. “I think we can go really far this season, and I’m just excited to see all that we can accomplish.”