Hawkeyes Open Fall Practice
Aug. 12, 2010
Iowa City, IA - - The Hawkeyes kicked off fall practice Thursday morning under blue skies at Grant Field, signifying the start of the 2010 season. The Black and Gold will feature a different look in 2010 with the addition of seven newcomers. The Hawkeyes return seven starters from last year's team and 10 letterwinners.
"We are going to have a high level of competition at every position," said Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum. "It is exciting to know that we have skilled players in every line. We have some holes to fill in our penalty corners due to graduation so that will be something we look to solidify right away in preseason. We will look to improve our game at a steady rate throughout the entire season."
Griesbaum is now in her 11th season at the helm of the storied program. She has led Iowa to three Big Ten Tournament Championships, four NCAA Tournament championships and the 2008 NCAA Final Four. Griesbaum is joined by Associate Head Coach Lisa Cellucci, a former Hawkeye All-American, who is also in her 11th season. Caroline Nichols, a member of the U.S. National Team, is in her first season as a member of the coaching staff. Another former Hawkeye All-American and current U.S. National Team member, Lauren Pfeiffer, returns for her second season as the volunteer assistant coach. In addition, Meghan Beamesderfer, an All-American in 2009, will serve as undergraduate student assistant coach this fall. Gabby Quiggle is the team's strength and conditioning coach.
"I am thrilled to have such a talented, energetic and loyal coaching staff," said Griesbaum. "Lisa returns for her 11th season as a member of the coaching staff. Lisa is in the upper echelon of goalkeeping coaches in the country. She was an All-American goalkeeper for the Hawkeyes and we are fortunate to have her expertise and enthusiasm. Caroline is the newest member of the Hawkeyes. Caroline is a stellar defender on the National Team. She will be actively involved in technical and tactical development of the team. Lauren will once again be our volunteer assistant coach. She will be in her second year on the sidelines after leading the 2008 Hawkeyes to the Final Four. Meghan will be the undergraduate student assistant as she finishes up her last semester before graduation. She is coming off a great senior campaign, earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and All-American honors."
Griesbaum indicated the Hawkeyes will be looking for an improved offensive output in 2010.
"We are looking to improve our offensive production and we have to start by discussing the players who will be directly responsible for scoring goals," said Griesbaum. "Rebecca Spengler and Sarah Drake will be returning to the forward line. Becca has a strong understanding of our defensive schemes and we will be looking to her for leadership on and off the field. Sarah is a feisty player. She will bring intensity and grit to our style of play."
Spengler, a team captain, and Drake will be the leaders on the front line. Spengler, a junior, has started 30 career games and her experience will be relied upon. Drake was outstanding in 2009, finishing third on the team with eight goals. The sophomore was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice a year ago.
"Joining them on the forward line will be Hailey Chadbourne, and freshmen Kelsey Mitchell and Kim Scraper," added Griesbaum. "Kelsey has great possession and elimination skills. Kim is a dynamic player in the open field and they both have the ability to draw penalty corners and score goals."
Chadbourne, a sophomore, saw action in 10 games in 2009. Mitchell, who holds the high school record for career goals in the state of New Jersey (171), and Scraper, will add depth to the forward position.
"Sarah Pergine will be a solid presence in our midfield," said Griesbaum. "Sarah has the most experience on the team and she will have the job of controlling the tempo of the game as well as keeping the field organized at all times. Geena Lesiak will contribute to our offensive production from both the forward and midfield line. Sarah and Geena have good field sense and will help with our overall production. Marike Stribos comes to the Hawkeyes with a lot of high level hockey experience. She is most comfortable playing in the midfield but her skill set will be valuable anywhere on the field. Aubrey Coleman will also be able to challenge for a spot in the midfield.
Pergine, a senior co-captain, owns the most experience of any Hawkeye returnee. She has started 36 career games and was a member of the 2008 Hawkeye team that advanced to the NCAA Final Four. Lesiak started 17 games as a freshman in 2009 and recorded four goals. They will be joined by freshmen Marike Stribos and Aubrey Coleman.
"Jessica Barnett and Chelsea Miller are our returning back field players," said Griesbaum. "They will be called upon to make stops and initiate our attack. Sarah Pedrick is another returner who will add to our effectiveness. Niki Schultheis, Dani Peirson, Aubrey Coleman, and Karli Johansen also possess outstanding skills that will be beneficial in our backfield."
Senior Chelsea Miller, a team co-captain, returns for her final season with the Black and Gold. Miller has appeared in 40 career games and was a member of the Hawkeye team that advanced to the 2008 NCAA Final Four. Barnett had an outstanding freshman campaign, starting all 19 games. She was a main contributor on Iowa's defensive penalty corner unit. Pedrick saw action in three contests as a freshman. This trio will be joined by freshmen Niki Schultheis, Dani Peirson, Aubrey Coleman and Karli Johansen.
The final front of the defense lies in the hands of the goalkeepers. Over the years, Iowa has been known for outstanding play in goal. Two young keepers will be counted on to ensure 2010 will be no different.
"Kathleen `Merty' McGraw is returning with the most experience in goal," said Griesbaum. "Merty is a powerful athlete and her skills are steadily improving. Kelsey Boyce is also a returner with some experience. As always, the goalkeeping position is the heart, soul, and mind of the defense. Merty and Kelsey will lead our defensive unit on a daily basis."
McGraw started 16 games as a freshman in 2009, including each Hawkeye victory. She ranked fifth in the Big Ten with 67 saves and third with two shutouts. Boyce saw action in one contest and did not allow a goal.
Iowa will play two exhibition matches before opening the regular season. The Hawkeyes travel to Big Ten foe Northwestern Friday, Aug. 20, at 1 p.m. Iowa then hosts Missouri State Sunday Aug. 22, in its final tune-up before the regular season.
Iowa opens the regular season with the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Chapel Hill, NC. The Hawkeyes will face Wake Forest Saturday, Aug. 28, at 1:30 p.m. and will then battle defending national champion North Carolina Sunday, Aug. 29, at 11 a.m. Both times are central.