The IU field hockey team will have its first taste of Big Ten action on Sept. 21 as it takes on defending Big Ten champion Penn State on the road, a matchup to be televised on the Big Ten Network.
IU has an all-time record of 23-65 when facing Big Ten opponents. Last season, the Hoosiers had a 2-4 conference record that consisted of a 2-1 record at home and a 0-3 road record.
The two conference wins last year were Sept. 23, 4-1 against No. 15 Northwestern and Oct. 9, 4-2 against Michigan State.
The six ranked Big Ten teams at the time of publication include No. 8 Penn State, No. 10 Iowa, No. 11 Northwestern, No. 15 Michigan, No. 20 Michigan State and No. 23 Ohio State.
IU Coach Amy Robertson said it’s not clear how her team will perform in conference play because of the unpredictability of the Big Ten, but she said they do know which teams to watch out for.
“It’s hard to say because the Big Ten changes so much,” she said. “Right now, Penn State is having a lot of success. Iowa and Northwestern seem to be the teams to beat.”
Robertson also said the team’s youth could work to its advantage against some conference opponents.
“Iowa has a lot of experience, Penn State has a lot of experience, so we’re probably the younger team, but I think that makes us more of an unknown,” Robertson said. “I think there is less pressure on this team, and they have the freedom to just go play instead of big expectations.”
Senior forward Morgan Fleetwood said the Big Ten is always strong and maybe even stronger this year, but she shared her optimism about competing in conference play.
“It’s going to be hard, but we’re gonna keep practicing, get better each weekend,” Fleetwood said. “And the Big Ten season couldn’t start at a better time for us.”
Sophomore forward Nicole Volgraf said her team would have a better idea of how it will do in Big Ten play after the set of games against Louisville and Ohio on Sept. 7 and 9. The team won 3-2 in the match against Louisville and lost 2-1 to Ohio.
She also said the experience and new mindset should work in their favor.
“In our first three games, practices and even our scrimmages there is just a different mentality on the team this year,” Volgraf said. “It is definitely a mentality that will take us further than last year.”
The fifth-year senior will be an offensive facilitator at times for IU this year.
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