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Balanced Attack Paces Hawkeyes Down the Stretch
Iowa leads Big Ten in goals; hosts Michigan State in regular season finale Saturday (1 p.m.)
Sophomore Natalie Cafone is leading the Hawkeye offense that ranks first in the Big Ten in goals scored.
Sophomore Natalie Cafone is leading the Hawkeye offense that ranks first in the Big Ten in goals scored.
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Nov. 1, 2013

Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's November edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department's online publication.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When asked what she liked most about her 2013 team, University of Iowa head field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum pointed to one term in particular:

Balance.

"I like that we're balanced," said Griesbaum. "I like that we have experience and leadership in every single line and I like that we are more of an offensive threat."

The Hawkeyes lead the conference in goals (as of Oct. 29), with 59, averaging 3.47 per contest. The last time Iowa led the conference in goals came in 2004, when the team claimed the Big Ten regular-season title.

"Iowa field hockey, for the most part under my tenure, has been a little bit more, `let's work super hard, possess the ball, score on corners, and defend like crazy,'" said Griesbaum. "That is not going to go away; I still completely value individual and team defense, but now we have some explosive attackers and we have not had that."

Iowa is led offensively by sophomore Natalie Cafone (19 goals) and junior Dani Hemeon (11 goals). Cafone ranks third nationally with 2.65 points per game and fourth with 1.12 goals per game, and leads the Big Ten in both categories.

"Dani, from an overall standpoint, has played well all over the field," said Griesbaum. "She is a part of every play. She is an emotional leader, and is good at communicating off and on the field. She has a very optimistic way of carrying herself, and it is contagious. The team rallies around her.

"Up front, it has to be Natalie (that has stood out). The team is getting her the ball and she is scoring. She is finding a way to get it done."

Cafone and Hemeon are not the only players showing up in the box scores.

Nine Hawkeyes have found the back of the goal, and 10 have registered a point. Eight have scored three or more goals.

"We are trying to give them even more confidence to attack," said Griesbaum. "Some players even have more in them to be more offensive.

"That is what I like about this team; we have skilled players in every line and we are much more threatening offensively."

The Hawkeyes posted a five-game winning streak during October, outscoring their opponents 25-6 during the stretch, and hope to finish the 2013 campaign in a similar fashion.

Iowa -- which has advanced to two-straight NCAA Tournaments -- closes the regular season Nov. 2 in Iowa City at Grant Field, hosting Michigan State at 1 p.m. (CT).

"Finishing our regular season at home is awesome," said Griesbaum. "We want to win every game and do it playing our game and pride ourselves on how we prepare. We are excited."

The Hawkeyes open postseason play, Nov. 7-10, at the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

Iowa has won five Big Ten Tournament titles, equaling the second-most of any league team, and 27 tournament games, the most of any team. The Hawkeyes won three-straight titles under Griesbaum from 2006-08.

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