By Taylor McNitt
After a long Labor Day weekend in hot California temperatures, the Iowa field-hockey team looks forward to being back on home turf again to face off against New Hampshire on today and Sept. 10.
“It was a good weekend, all in all,” said freshman Madeline Murphy. “We showed that we can get wins and score some goals, which is really good. It was unfortunate to lose against Stanford initially, but I think the team really grew, and we learned a lot over in California, which is really nice to see.”
The Hawkeyes had a strong showing against Stanford despite falling in the end.
“I believe that the first 50 minutes against Stanford, we played the best hockey we’ve played so far,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “I was disappointed with the outcome, but Stanford was on its home field, and with the adverse conditions we played in, it was tough. But I was really proud of the hockey we played, the performance we had; we just needed to play it for someone else. We had to play three games in four days in that kind of heat, so it was tremendous how those girls responded.”
Senior Mallory Lefkowitz said much of the same about the California weekend.
“I think we definitely stepped up. We got two out of three wins, which was awesome, and the one that we didn’t win, we really held our ground and put up a good fight,” she said. “I’m excited moving forward.”
The Hawkeyes will now take on New Hampshire, an unranked team that Cellucci nonetheless respects.
“New Hampshire is a very, very solid team,” she said. “They’re just outside the top 25, and they’re very organized, very structured, and all of their players know how to execute their roles, so we anticipate it to be quite a tough game, a bit similar to [California]. They’re aggressive, they have skill over the ball, they have some dangerous penalty corners, so it’s going to be a battle. But we’re looking forward to it, to being back at home.”
The players are also excited about facing New Hampshire.
“I’m feeling really positive,” said sophomore Katie Birch. “I think UNH is a really good team, and we’re going to have to bring it to them.”
Coming off the California trip, the Hawkeyes learned a lot about their play, and they expect to be an even better team this weekend.
“I think as the weekend went on, we began connecting more as a team,” Lefkowitz said. “It made it more possible to focus in on basic skills, and we were able to show that.”
Murphy agreed with Lefkowitz’s assessment.
“There were some nice combinations with the girls, and we’re really starting to grow and cue in with each other, which is nice. The next level of hockey is starting to happen, so it was a good weekend.”
Cellucci outlined specific strategies, such as heightened defensive strategies and “attack-mentality.” The Hawkeyes are ready to put some more shots in the back of the net.
“I think, just talking with the girls, that the attitude is that we’re really going to bring it, we’re going to try our hardest, and we’re really up for the challenge,” Birch said. “We’re ready.”