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Hawkeyes Stress Opportunity
Iowa faces 2 nationally ranked foes this weekend in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Senior Sarah Drake and the Hawkeyes face No. 13 Wake Forest and No. 2 North Carolina this weekend in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Senior Sarah Drake and the Hawkeyes face No. 13 Wake Forest and No. 2 North Carolina this weekend in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
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Aug. 23, 2012

Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Head coach Tracey Griesbaum began preparing her University of Iowa field hockey team for challenges it would face in its 2012 schedule back in January. Now that the opening weekend is here, she's stressing opportunity.

"I don't mind planting the seed in this group," said Griesbaum, who is in her 13th season with the Hawkeyes. "We handed them the final RPI from last season in January when we started our spring, and we had every team on our schedule highlighted.

"It turns out half of our regular season schedule is in the top 25. Our team embraces it (the challenge). They want to be good, want to be the best, want to win championships."

With a team that features 11 upperclassmen (six seniors, five juniors), Griesbaum says this team can handle looking ahead and identifying potential opportunities.

"This senior and junior class can handle it," she said. "It doesn't intimidate them, doesn't make them lose their focus or anything like that. The reality is if you don't talk to them about it and you bring it up in November then it's too late."





"It turns out half of our regular season schedule is in the top 25. Our team embraces it (the challenge). They want to be good, want to be the best, want to win championships."
UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum


The Hawkeyes head to Winston-Salem, N.C., for the 2012 Big Ten/ACC Challenge where they'll face two top 13 teams. Iowa opens the season against No. 13 Wake Forest on Saturday before facing second-ranked North Carolina on Sunday.

Wake Forest finished the 2011 season with a 10-9 overall record and a 2-3 mark in the ACC. North Carolina was the NCAA runner-up in each of the past two seasons after winning the national championship in 2009.

"We know they're two of the top programs in the country," said Griesbaum. "Wake had a down year last year, but it is not a long-standing thing. It was a little blip in their program. North Carolina is second in the poll, but they have a team that can be No. 1. They're not very far off."

Griesbaum says the Hawkeyes need to close out this week's game preparation strong to be at the top of their game come Saturday.

"They have to do everything they can to put their best foot forward at practice and the minute practice is over, they have to do everything they can to recover both mentally and physically," she said. "We have to wrap our brain around the fact that we have to play our "A" game or we won't be in the game.

"Our returnees understand the landscape of Division I hockey and what we need to do to get into the NCAA tournament. All of this gets there attention."

After earning the preseason No. 12 ranking, the Hawkeyes want to continue to ascend in the poll, and this weekend gives them that opportunity.

"We want to work our way up in the poll and not be sitting at No. 12," said Griesbaum. "To open play and have a chance to do that in the very first weekend is incredible. We have to come out and be ready to compete."

Both games will be held on the campus of Wake Forest beginning at 1 p.m. (CT). Fans can follow the action via Gametracker on hawkeyesports.com.

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