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IU faces big weekend against No. 20 Stanford, St. Francis with pressing offensive questions



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Then-sophomore midfielder Ciara Girouard looks to pass the ball against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 10, 2017, at the IU Field Hockey Complex. IU will play in the Hoosier Invitational against No. 20 Stanford and St. Francis University this weekend. Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

After a long Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia, a weekend that resulted in two losses for IU Field Hockey, the Hoosiers are back in town for the final full nonconference weekend of the season. 

With losses to Villanova and Drexel over the weekend, the Hoosiers find themselves at a crossroads in their season. 

Two wins in the Hoosier Invitational this weekend would move them to 3-3. Two losses would put them at 1-5. For IU, being back at home could be crucial in turning around their season.

“We’re excited to be back at home,” IU Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn said. “We’re really looking to put it all together on our home field, in front of our crowd, and really get some good games in this weekend.”

Even though the trip to Philadelphia served as a homecoming of sorts for the East Coast players on the IU roster, the team is thankful to be back at a comfortable place. 

The chance to play an elite team on their home turf is a bright opportunity to get a stroke of confidence back.

“Being back at home is just an advantage," junior Ciara Girouard said. “We know our field and have our fans there. Stanford is going to be a great challenge for us. It’s a great opportunity for us to bounce back from last weekend."

IU will play against No. 20 Stanford and St. Francis University in the Hoosier Invitational in Bloomington. This will be the Hoosiers’ second crack at a top 25 team, and also an opportunity to see two teams that reflect the style of play that IU will run into during conference play.

“Both of the opponents we see this weekend have different strengths, so it should get us prepared for the Big Ten play,” Janney Misselhorn said. “They’re both strong teams, so we’re expecting our defense to get tested."

One of the Hoosiers’ main focuses this weekend goes back to the offensive side of the ball. 

IU struggled in this aspect in Philadelphia, scoring just two goals against Villanova and being shut out against Drexel. 

IU leads its opponents in penalty corners, but converting on them has been a struggle. 

“It’s those chances that we need to put away," Janney Misselhorn said. "We have fantastic hitters this year. That gives us a variety of different people shooting, so I think we’re going to see a variety of different hitters scoring goals later in the season.”

Girouard said this week of practice has been crucial for IU.

The Hoosiers’ inability to finish around the net has hurt them through four games on the season, but a normal week of practice has given IU an ample amount of time to work on the intricacies of finishing.

“We’ve just been working on different patterns and some basics,” Girouard said. “Just finishing scrappy goals. I think that’s important."

Janney Misselhorn said she knows it’s only a matter of the time before everything starts to come together for the Hoosiers. 

Each game has featured solid play in one aspect for IU. Getting an early lead in the games this weekend will give IU the ability to start putting everything together.

“We’re playing good hockey," Janney Misselhorn said. "We’ll make two good passes and then the third one we’ll maybe lose, so I think kind of putting it all together. We’ve got to play stronger in the second half. We need to get an early lead and make sure we keep it."

Girouard knows how important this weekend is. 

The leading returning scorer for the Hoosiers is still goalless on the season, but she doesn’t want to get in her own head before a big weekend. 

“I think for me, I’ve been thinking way too much,” Girouard said. “I’ve just got to do my best to help the team out more. Thinking about scoring doesn’t help at all."

The Hoosiers will play No. 20 Stanford at 3 p.m. Friday and will wrap up with with St. Francis at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the IU Field Hockey Complex.

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