The IU field hockey team returns home for its final home match of the season against No. 6 Iowa on Friday and travels to Athens, Ohio, to take on Ohio University on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes are second in the Big Ten standings at 4-1, sitting only behind No. 2 Maryland, who they lost to last Friday 3-0. Iowa, although strong on both ends of the field, are particularly adept at scoring.
Iowa ranks second in the conference in shots, points and goals behind Maryland as well. Junior Maddy Murphy leads the team in goals with six, followed by sophomores Leah Zellner, Anthe Nijziel and Lokke Sribos. Seniors Katie Birch and Sophie Sunderland all have five goals so far this year. Murphy is second on the team in assists as well, with seven on the season.
Last season, both Murphy and Nijziel scored goals against the Hoosiers’ defense in a 3-0 shutout, where Iowa allowed one total shot from IU. The team also drew nine corners to IU’s zero in last year’s matchup, which has also been a source of frustration for IU’s defense.
Iowa leads the all-time series between IU, with a record of 17-5, including a record of 6-3 when playing in Bloomington.
This weekend’s matchup is vital for both teams, with this match being one of the final opportunities for each team to improve their Big Ten Tournament seeding. The Hawkeyes are second, while the Hoosiers sit in eighth out of nine teams.
The Hoosiers travel east to Ohio on Sunday to take on Ohio University, who plays in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats sit in second place in the conference behind Kent State University, who beat IU two weeks ago in Bloomington.
IU is 1-2 against MAC teams this season, with a loss to Miami University and a victory over Ball State University back in September.
Ohio leads the conference in goals per game, averaging nearly three goals every time the team take the field. However, it also allows the second most goals in the MAC, at just over three per game. The Hoosiers will look to exploit the soft underbelly that is the Bobcat defense, much like Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan State did when facing Ohio.
This weekend could be an opportunity for IU to boost its morale and gain momentum going into the end of the regular season and into the Big Ten Tournament. With four games left until the tournament, the Hoosiers look to end their six-game skid with a pair of important victories this weekend.
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