No. 9 Iowa blanks weak Rutgers' offense
Things got off to a fast start for No. 9 Iowa against the Rutgers field hockey team Sunday at the Bauer Track and Field Complex. The Hawkeyes controlled the pace for most of the first and second half in a 3-0 win over the Scarlet Knights.
It paid dividends, as forward Natalie Cafone was able to put the Hawkeyes (5-2) up 1-0, four minutes into the game, with her 10th goal of the season.
The Knights (4-3, 0-1) failed to generate much offensively. They were back on their heels in their defensive zone for the majority of the first half.
The Hawkeyes were able to get six corners in the first half but like the majority of the half, the Knights’ defense was a wall.
This can be credited to sophomore goalie Shevaun Hayes, who made some impressive saves and kept the Knights in the game for the first half. She made five saves in the first half and eight for the game.
“Shevaun played outstanding,” said head coach Meredith Long. “She made a couple big saves early on in the game.”
Rutgers was able to generate just six shots in the first half compared to Iowa’s 13.
“Iowa’s attack is dangerous and we just gave them a little bit too much space and time,” Long said.
The second half was more of the same story as the Hawkeyes continued to control the game. Cafone was able to breakthrough and score her second goal of the game, her 11th of the season.
Shortly after, forward Sara Watro was able to break through and score a goal off a deflection to extend the lead to the eventual final score, 3-0.
It seemed like every time Cafone touched the ball, she was able to create opportunities for herself and teammates.
From Hayes’ perspective, it wasn’t fun seeing Cafone running at her.
“She was a bit annoying,” Hayes said. “She was a big part of their team. Without her, they wouldn’t have had as many corners or attacks. She’s an amazing player.”
Iowa was completely dominant on the offensive side, finishing the game with 10 corners and 11 shots on goal, compared to that of Rutgers’ three corners and two shots on goal.
“We got taken aback a bit,” sophomore midfielder Alyssa Bull said of their lack of offense. “We were playing a very defensive game. We had a defensive mentality. We would work so hard to get the ball up the field and weren’t able to capitalize and they would have a counter attack, putting us back in to our defensive mentality.”
Long felt the team was not in sync and Iowa put the offense in disarray.
“I don’t feel that our forwards were connecting consistently throughout the game,” Long said. “We did a really good job gaining circle entry on our right side. We couldn’t finish on the back post. A big focus for us going into this weekend is to generate a more sustained attack.”
Bull felt that Rutgers really began to show signs of exhaustion come the second half, hurting its offense even more.
“I think we were tired in the second half and it showed,” Bull said. “We need to get a routine and rhythm going together on the field earlier in upcoming games.”
For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.