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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports field hockey

The Hoosiers begin the Big Ten tournament

Pictured from left to right, seniors Nicole Volgraf and Rachel Stauffer embrace each other at the end of the match against Rutgers on Friday. The Hoosiers defeated Rutgers on senior night 1-0.

The Hoosiers won the most conference games in program history this season with first-year IU Coach Amanda Janney. The five conference wins earned them the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament, which they will play host to for the first time since 2008 on Thursday.

“Having the home field advantage is so great for our players, and our players’ families,” Janney said. “To be able to play on a comfortable surface that they’re so used to and we’ve obviously done very well at home, so we’re excited about that.”

IU (9-9, 5-3) will match up against No. 6 seed Penn State (8-9, 4-4), which it shutout at home 1-0 in mid-October. The win came after IU went on the road and shutout Ohio State, giving freshman goalkeeper Noelle Rother two consecutive shutouts earning the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award.

The streaky Hoosiers, who carry four losing streaks of two or more games this season, hope to heat up at the right time this postseason as a Big Ten tournament championship would give them an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve talked about it since day one with me that I want to make sure they understand our goals to not only make the Big Ten tournament and do well there, but to also make the NCAA’s,” Janney said. “It’s something we talk about, but we don’t focus on too much because we’re so focused on 
tomorrow’s game.”

Rother has anchored the Hoosiers down the stretch as she was named Second Team Big Ten All-American on Thursday. Along with solid defensive play by fellow Big Ten second-teamer senior defender Sydney Supica, who’s held down the back line and scored timely goals, IU has given up just one goal in the past four conference games.

“We’ve worked in practice on really focusing on what we can do individually and grow as a team,” Supica said. “Just as a unit, we’re really clicking and our confidence is building as well.”

Penn State is a deceiving No. 6 seed. The Nittany Lions pride themselves on solid defensive play but have a bleak offensive attack. Leading scorer junior forward Brook Birosik recorded a hat trick in the season finale against Northwestern, earning her offensive player of the week award in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions have won six conference tournaments — more than any other team in the Big Ten — since joining in 1992. All of those championships have come under Charlene Morett-Curtiss who has been at the helm for the last 29 years. If IU can get past Penn State and into the semi-finals, it will face either No. 2 Michigan or No. 7 Iowa.

IU’s top goal scorer sophomore Maddie Latino returned to the field against Rutgers after sitting out during the final road stint of the season with a foot injury. Latino showed no signs of rust against the Scarlet Knights as she tallied two assists in the 2-0 win.

“Taking those two games off were really smart for me, especially because I think the Big Ten games and tournament are a lot more important,” Latino said. “At the end of the season you have to do what’s best. I would’ve loved to have played, of course, but doing what’s best for my body and best for the team I had to just wait and let it heal.”

The first round matchup will take place under the lights at the IU Field Hockey Complex for the first time all season. The Hoosiers have the distinct advantage of watching three games take place before they step on the pitch at 5:30 p.m Thursday.

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