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Wednesday, Nov. 29
The Indiana Daily Student

sports field hockey

‘Fierce’ Mutembwa anchors back line

As the IU field hockey team prepares for its final weekend of regular season games, the players will do what they’ve done all season – rely on sophomore defender Mutsa Mutembwa to help anchor the defense.

And Mutembwa, the team’s vocal leader, relishes that role on the team.

The sophomore from Harare, Zimbabwe, has quickly adjusted to playing for the Hoosiers in two seasons. After having lived in four countries and competed on several national teams, adjustment is easy.

IU coach Amy Robertson said she saw maturity from Mutembwa since the day she arrived as a freshman. Mutembwa traveled to Bloomington in August 2007, the day after she finished competing for Zimbabwe’s field hockey team in the All-Africa Games.

“She came in as a freshman, but it was like she was already 22 years old,” Robertson said. “Right away, we had a player with a lot more maturity, a lot of world perspective on things and I’ll tell you it’s really hard to see Mutsa get affected by adversity.”

Mutembwa, whose British-influenced accent reflects her years spent in England, did not find the same enthusiasm for the sport in the U.S. compared to Zimbabwe. She began playing at 8 and began competing at the national level in 2005 with Zimbabwe’s U-21 team.

“For here, no one knows field hockey,” Mutembwa said. “Whereas my side of the world, it’s a big sport, everyone plays field hockey. It’s funny when someone asks you ‘What’s field hockey?’ in Indiana.”

Mutembwa provides an intimidating presence on the field. At 5-foot-10, she’s the tallest player on the IU roster, and her long arms keep opposing offenses from scoring.

Along with senior back and roommate Dani Castro and the rest of the defense, IU has allowed six goals in its seven wins this season.

“(Mutembwa) is a very fierce player,” Robertson said. “And when we’re in tight situations and when we need someone to be able to find the space and hit the ball through and relieve pressure, she’s the girl.”

Off the field, Mutembwa is pursuing a double major in math and economics. She does not mind her busy schedule, though.

“As much as I love hockey, I just love being busy,” she said. “When you’re a foreigner, it’s good to get involved in a lot of things. I have a passion for what I do in the classroom. I have a passion for what I do on the field. I’m passionate about everything.”

IU (7-8, 1-4) could use that passion today against Louisville. The Cardinals (12-5) come into Bloomington with a four-game winning streak.

Sophomore midfielder Kelsey Kiper said the team can use this non-conference game without the pressure of the Big Ten schedule.

“This is a refreshing game for us,” Kiper said. “We can go out there and just play. A victory to get our confidence up would be great.”

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