Indiana Daily Student

Hoosier homecoming this weekend in North Carolina

Homecoming arrives six weeks early for the IU field hockey team (3-1), and it won’t look anything like the eventful Bloomington weekend in late October. It won’t even be in Bloomington.

For several of the players, the team’s weekend trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., to face Ohio (1-3) on Saturday and No. 2 Wake Forest (4-0) Sunday will bring back their own East Coast memories.

Lucy Ireland, a junior from Chapel Hill, N.C., will be playing in front of many familiar faces and will face two of her friends on the Demon Deacons.

“I’m really excited to play in my home state,” Ireland said. “I’m really excited because I’m going to have a lot of family and friends there. It’ll be fun competition.”

It’s even more personal for sophomore goalkeeper Alex Mann, who played her freshman season at Wake Forest before she transferred to IU. As a Demon Deacon, she made three starts and saw her team advance to the national semifinals.

Still, despite her ACC past, Mann is trying to deflect any extra attention she might receive this weekend.

“It’s going to be hard, but it’s not about me,” Mann said. “It’s about Indiana going out and playing against Wake Forest, which they’ve done before. Personally, it’ll be interesting. I don’t really know what it will be like, but it’s not about me – that’s the main point.”

The Hoosiers will look for another strong performance from Mann to beat her former team. She’s coming off a shutout win against Saint Louis last weekend and was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

The coaching staff also has strong connections to its competition this weekend. IU coach Amy Robertson was an assistant coach at Wake Forest, while assistant Kelly Doton played at Wake Forest.

Meanwhile, another assistant coach, Katie Jo Gerfen, spent two seasons as assistant coach for the Ohio Bobcats, the team the Hoosiers face Saturday. The Hoosiers will look to avenge last year’s 1-0 loss to the Bobcats.

“It’ll be fun playing with the new and seeing the old,” Gerfen said.

As for the games, the Hoosiers look for two big wins. Ohio is always a challenge, junior midfielder Meg O’Connell said.

“They’re very well-coached, but so are we,” O’Connell said. “We play pretty similar to them, and we’re about in the same position. We’re excited to play them because we always have a good game.”

If they get past the Bobcats, the all-too familiar Demon Deacons loom Sunday.

“We couldn’t ask for anything better,” Gerfen said. “It’s our first game against a ranked team, and fortunately for our team, we can rise to the occasion.”

Ireland still thinks the Hoosiers can win.

“Wake is obviously going to be one of our toughest opponents of the year,” she said. “But we can come out of this weekend with two good wins. People underestimate our team because we’re young, but I definitely think we’ll come out on top.”

IU will be playing without one of its strongest defenders, sophomore Brenna Moeljadi, who broke her hip and will be out for the season on a medical redshirt.

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