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Significant duty
University of Iowa field hockey counting on defense, goalies
University of Iowa sophomore goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw  averages 4.25 saves per game and has three shutouts this season.
University of Iowa sophomore goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw averages 4.25 saves per game and has three shutouts this season.
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Oct. 13, 2010


By MICHELE DANNO

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- With a majority of the 2010 Hawkeye field hockey team's games spent on the defensive side, the goalie's duties are more significant than ever.

Last weekend was no exception for starting goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw, who posted seven saves for the University of Iowa against Michigan on Sunday. The Wolverines had 14 shots against McGraw, with Iowa attempting three shooting attempts.

In her true-freshman season with the Hawkeyes last year, McGraw boasted 67 saves and two shutouts, ranking fifth and third in the conference respectively. This year, she is tied for third in shutouts with three.

Fortunately for Iowa, McGraw doesn't see her job as physically straining, so she has the capacity to play the entire 90 minutes without letting up. This has been the expectation of the sophomore since her last year, as she has started all but one game in her career.

"Being a goalie is more about quick, explosive movements than sustained physical activity," McGraw said after the loss to Michigan. "But mentally, you do feel tired after the game because a lot of our job is communicating."

UI head coach Tracy Griesbaum agreed, comparing McGraw's role to that of a quarterback or point guard.

"Goalkeepers have to have a command of the defense in front of them," Griesbaum said. "They aren't always around the ball, and they're in a reacting position. We really need [McGraw] to know what the play is and communicate that -- to really be a field leader back there."

For McGraw, communication is key during game time and practice, where she looks to backup goalie and roommate Kelsey Boyce for motivation and competition.

Both sophomores, the women have faced the same transitions into college life and Division I field hockey.

"Being in the same grade is an awkward situation for us sometimes," McGraw said. "But I think having the competition is a good thing for us. In practice we feed off each other a lot, and if one of us is having a tough time with a drill, the other can pick us up."

The youthful duo is fortunate to take direction from associate head coach Lisa Cellucci. McGraw said having Cellucci's experienced insight, is helpful, and she is comforted knowing that someone understands the pressures of being a Big Ten goalie.

After Michigan scored twice on her, McGraw recognizes that she and Cellucci have some work to do in practice this week.

She said both goals were savable, and she attributes them primarily to "skill breakdown."

"The first one was an easy ball, and I just didn't get down soon enough," McGraw said. "That's frustrating because it's a ball I save every day in practice. The second one was a little more difficult. I needed to push to the left more and I would have had it. Those goals are a lot more frustrating to defend than an actual good shot."

Iowa (3-9 overall) returns to action with road contests at Indiana on Oct. 15 and at Louisville on Oct. 17.

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