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Two ranked, conference opponents headline IU field hockey’s weekend slate



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Senior Taylor Swope blocks the ball from Ball State on Aug. 18. The Hoosiers open up Big Ten Conference play this week. Anna Tiplick Buy Photos

After going down 2-0 against St. Francis on Sunday, IU looked it was in line for their fourth-consecutive defeat. 

A four-goal second half changed the tide of the game, giving IU the win and perhaps just the boost of confidence it needed heading into its match against Northwestern on Friday, as well as for the rest of Big Ten Conference play.

"It was a great showing of our resilience and our team effort just to get that done Sunday,” Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn said. “It was the biggest comeback we’ve had in my four years here."

Senior Taylor Swope was one of the four players to score in the second half onslaught Sunday. Swope said she believes that continuing to push balls into the circle will be crucial in getting good offensive looks and shots in the back of the net.

“I think just finding each other whether it’s verbal or non-verbal, taking shots in the circle and not hesitating about taking those shots or corners,” Swope said about what will be key to scoring.

Northwestern comes in to the matchup with a 4-3 record, featuring games against defending National Champion UCONN, Duke, Boston College and Stanford. The Wildcats are consistently one of the Big Ten’s best teams and could present the Hoosiers' toughest test of the season so far.

“They just move the ball, and their percentage of shots on target is very good right now," Janney Misselhorn said. "We just need to play good defense and keep them out of the circle and then take advantage of the opportunities we have on the attack."

After struggling on offense in the first couple games of the season, Janney Misselhorn called for a formation change to bring new fortune to the IU attack. 

A handful of games in, and players like sophomore Rylee Pearson are starting to get adjusted to IU’s new formation.

“We’re more comfortable with that," Pearson said. "We’ve practiced that for a while now, and the freshman coming in all know it well, so we work well together in that formation."

One of those changes called for moving IU’s versatile junior Kelsey Giese toward the front line, a move that’s already started to pay dividends as she had an assist and a goal Sunday.

“Moving Kelsey up front on the attack helps because she’s so attack-minded,” Janney Misselhorn said. “She did a good job to set our season off right with great defense, but now we’re ready to release her now and she’s got the green light to do whatever she wants on attack.”

The Hoosiers understand the magnitude of this weekend. One win or even two would get IU out to a good start in conference play, something that would go a long way in prolonging the season into the postseason.

“One of our goals is to be a top team in the Big Ten to finish out for postseason," Swope said. "I think just playing well against them and coming out strong will bode well for the rest of conference play since this is opening weekend.”

IU’s match with Northwestern will start at 3 p.m. Friday at Bill Armstrong Stadium, and then the Hoosiers will head west to meet Iowa at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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