The Daily Iowan

Hawkeye field hockey looks for more goals in home opener

Iowa field hockey hosts its home opener against Dartmouth on Friday.

Iowa+forward+Madeline+Murphy+looks+to+a+teammate+during+a+field+hockey+game+during+the+Big+Ten%2FACC+Challenge+at+Grant+Field+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+Aug.+26%2C+2017.+The+Hawkeyes+fell+to+Wake+Forest%2C+3-2.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Iowa forward Madeline Murphy looks to a teammate during a field hockey game during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Grant Field in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. The Hawkeyes fell to Wake Forest, 3-2. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa forward Madeline Murphy looks to a teammate during a field hockey game during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Grant Field in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. The Hawkeyes fell to Wake Forest, 3-2. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa forward Madeline Murphy looks to a teammate during a field hockey game during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Grant Field in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. The Hawkeyes fell to Wake Forest, 3-2. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

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The 20th-ranked Iowa field-hockey team will take on Dartmouth today at 3 p.m for its home-opener at Grant Field.

Dartmouth went 7-10 last season, finishing seventh in the Ivy League. Aug. 31 will be its first game of the year. Similar to the Hawkeyes, it returns its top two scorers from last season, junior Katie Spanos (9 goals) and senior Gemma Bautista (8).

However, that shouldn’t be an issue, because Iowa’s defense has started the season strong, with junior goalie Leslie Speight as the backbone. Speight tallied 17 saves in two games last weekend and now has a .850 save percentage. She seems determined to keep the goal guarded this weekend.

“Last weekend, I just played instinctively, and I plan to do the same this weekend,” Speight said. “I am just going to trust my skills and my teammates.”

On the offensive end, 11 of 15 shots taken by Iowa have been on-goal this season. Sophomore Maddy Murphy, who earned second-team All-West Region honors and a place on the Division-1 National Academic Squad last season, has scored a goal in both of Iowa’s games. She hopes to keep the streak up against the Big Green.

“My goal for this season is a goal a game,” Murphy said. “I don’t know much about Dartmouth, but I think if we stick to our processes, it will be a really good game, and we’ve been doing so well.”

The Hawkeyes have demonstrated they are deep; head coach Lisa Cellucci used seven substitutes last weekend in the Hawks’ 2-1 victory over No. 14 Wake Forest. Junior captain Katie Birch, who was named third-team All-American and had the third most goals in the Big Ten last year, recognizes the depth of her team.

“[We need to] go out there and play as hard as we can as best as we can,” she said. “We want to bring it to Dartmouth. We know they’re going to be a good team, so we just want to attack them with everything we have. We have a lot of potential.”

The Hawkeyes also will face the Ball State Cardinals (0-2) at 1 p.m. Sept. 2 at Grant Field. Ball State returns sophomore Grace Chavez, its keeper from last year, who finished the season with 74 saves. In the past 26 matches against Ball State, Iowa has prevailed in 24 of them. The last time the two teams met, the Hawkeyes won, 4-1, at Grant Field two years ago.

Speight believes the team is ready to take care of its tasks this weekend.

“As long as we play our game, and to the level we are capable of and showed last weekend, then there is no doubt in my mind that we will end the weekend with a record of 3-1,” Speight said.

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