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Iowa Ready for a Challenge
Hawkeyes to host Big Ten/ACC Challenge this weekend
Heather Schnepf and the Hawkeyes are looking to fly high this season
Heather Schnepf and the Hawkeyes are looking to fly high this season
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Aug. 22, 2005

IOWA CITY -

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The Big Ten/ACC Challenge

The University of Iowa will be hosting the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this Saturday and Sunday. This will be the fourth year that of North Carolina, Wake Forest, Michigan and Iowa have participated in the Challenge. The competition this year should be exceptional as all four teams enter the tournament after stellar seasons last year. Iowa and Wake Forest open things up Saturday at noon, while Michigan and North Carolina play at two. The Hawkeyes and Tarheels play Sunday at noon, with Michigan and Wake Forest wrapping things up at 2 p.m.

Tournament Location

With construction on the new Grant Field in the final stages, the location of the tournament this weekend is still up in the air. If the field is finished, all games will be played at the new Grant Field adjacent to the Roy G. Karro Hall of Fame. If construction is still ongoing, the tournament will be held at the old Grant Field, across from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A decision will be made later this week.

The 2005 Hawkeyes

After adding a 13th Big Ten Trophy to their collection and ending the season with a NCAA Tournament appearance, this year's squad has high expectations placed on them.

The team that steps onto Grant Field will have a new look to it after losing five starting seniors to graduation. Gone are first team all-American's Barb Weinberg and Sarah Dawson, along with four-time all-Big Ten pick Lauren Stiver, Margot McMahon and Tammy Leister.

Expect second team all-Big Ten picks Heather Schnepf and Debbie Birrell to provide leadership on the young squad, with sophomores Caroline Blaum and Kadi Sickel ready to step up and take on a more substantial role after solid rookie campaigns.

More Challenging

This may be the final year on the original contract of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but these four teams will continue the stellar tradition of the tournament with another four-year contract starting next season.

Challenge History

The Hawkeyes are 1-5 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. They shut-out Wake Forest, 1-0, in the tournament's first game in 2002.

Every game between Iowa and Wake Forest has been a one-goal game.

Teams at Grant Field

The Hawkeyes have played all three teams in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Grant Field.

North Carolina is 1-1 at Grant Field, defeating Penn State 1-0 and losing to Iowa 2-0 in the 1999 NCAA Tournament.

Wake Forest is also 1-1 at Grant Field, defeating Indiana (6-0) and Iowa (4-0) in a pair of regular season games in 2003.

Michigan is 4-13 at Grant Field, but has won four of the last six meetings there.

Iowa is 103-21 all-time at Grant Field, going 8-1 last year.

Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons enter the Challenge as the reigning NCAA Division I National Champions; it was their third national title in as many years. The Deacs, who went 20-3 in 2004, lost two key players to graduation in Kelly Dostal and Claire Laubach. Dostal, a two-time All American, was tabbed as the 2004 National Field Hockey Player of the Year and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and Laubach also was a two-time all-American defender. The Deacs hope that the addition of a large, talented freshmen class combined with the experience of many upperclassmen will lead to a successful 2005 campaign.

Coach Jennifer Averill is in her 14th season at Wake Forest. She has compiled a 177-77-3 record with the Demon Deacons. Averill was also named as the 2004 National Field Hockey Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee. North Carolina

The Tar Heels finished up the 2004 season with a 21-2 record, including a 4-0 ACC run, and were champions of the ACC Tournament. North Carolina looks forward to a successful season in 2005 with the help of junior Rachel Dawson and senior goalkeeper Katy Tran. Dawson, a first team all-American, member of the all-ACC team and ACC Tournament Team, as well as the 2004 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and Tran, also an all-ACC pick and member of the ACC Tournament Team, hope to help the Tar Heels repeat as the ACC Champions and make a run at the national title.

Coach Karen Shelton enters her 25th year at the helm of the North Carolina. She has a 397-109-9 record and was the NFHCA 2004 South Regional Coach of the Year. Michigan

The Wolverines were crowned as the 2004 Big Ten Tournament Champions and were co-Big Ten Regular Season Champions. After losing all-American and Big Ten Player of the Year Adrienne Hortillosa, Michigan will look to senior Lori Hillman and juniors Katie Morris and Mary Fox. Hillman, an NFHCA all-American third team selection, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Tournament MVP will anchor the Wolverine defense while Morris (18 goals in 2004) and Fox, a second-team all-Big Ten selection, to run the offense.

Nancy Cox is in her first season as head coach at Michigan after serving as a long time assistant to Marcia Pankratz.

Rage in the Cage

After pencilling in Barb Weinberg's name as the starting goalkeeper for the last three seasons, the Hawkeyes will have an old fashioned goalkeeper battle for the starting job this year.

Freshmen Lissa Munley and Megan Heise are duking it out for the starting nod, and the decision looks to go down to the wire for the first week.

Iowa's other freshman goalkeeper, Melissa Helsel, was in the mix until a knee injury sidelined her during preseason practice. The team hopes to have her back in about four weeks.

Clutch Players

First-year players came up big for the Hawkeyes last year. Caroline Blaum and Kadi Sickel tied Sarah Dawson for the team lead with three game winning goals each.

Amazingly, both Blaum and Sickel scored game-winning, overtime goals in back-to-back games last season. The only other players in Iowa history to pull off that feat was Pattie Gillern (2002) and Heather Bryant (1991).

All-Big Ten Awards

The Hawkeyes' success allowed them to rack up plently of postseason awards, led by Sarah Dawson and Barb Weinberg, who were each named first team all-Americans by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.

Dawson led the Hawkeyes in every offensive category, posting 12 goals, 10 assists, 34 points and 76 shots on goal. Weinberg once again proved herself as the premier goalkeeper in the country, posting a 13-8 record, .793 save percentage and 1.60 goals against average. She also had four shutouts.

In the Big Ten, Iowa had five athletes earn all-conference honors, while Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum was named Coach of the Year.

Weinberg and Dawson were each named to the first team, while Debbie Birrell, Heather Schnepf and Lauren Stiver were all named to the second team.

Coach of the Year

The players weren't the only ones honored by the Big Ten last season. Iowa Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Hawkeyes to a 5-1 conference record and a share of the Big Ten Championship.

It is the first time Griesbaum has won the award. Former Iowa coach Beth Beglin is the only other Hawkeye coach to be so honored. Beglin won the award four times (1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999).

The Assistants

Former Hawkeye Lisa Cellucci and Carla Tagliente will return as the assistant coaches this season.

Cellucci was a four-year starter in the cage for Iowa. From 1995-98, Cellucci was a three-time All-American, four-time Regional All-American and a four-time All-Big Ten selection.

After graduation, Cellucci was an assistant coach at James Madison, where she helped the Dukes to a 15-7 record.

Tagliente was a four-time all-America selection for Maryland from 1997-2000, earning first team laurels her final three years.

She led the Terps to three ACC Titles and the 1999 NCAA Championship. She was also a two-time Broderick Award finalist and was a member of the U.S. National team from 1997-2003.

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