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UI Field Hockey: Cafone’s OT Goal Lifts No. 11 Hawkeyes

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Freshman Natalie Cafone’s game-winning goal in the 80th minute lifted the 11th-ranked University of Iowa field hockey team to a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 22 Michigan State on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament at Grant Field. The Hawkeyes will next face top-seeded Penn State in a Friday semifinal.

“You can dominate statistically and find yourself in the position we were in,” said UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum. “We were very lucky. Michigan State had some good opportunities at the end, but it’s a crazy game. You have to do what you can, and the bottom line is you have to score more goals than your opponent.

“In between, what happens statistically can be very different. I’ve won games on Michigan State’s side of the stats, and vice versa. Anything can happen, especially in tournament time. There is so much emotion behind both teams every single game, and that’s what you saw today.”

After going into overtime tied at one, senior Jessica Barnett fired a shot off a penalty corner, but Spartan goalkeeper Molly Cassidy got her pads on the attempt. Cafone corralled the deflection into the cage to send the Hawkeyes to the victory. The strike was the freshman’s eighth goal of the season and her second strike in as many games.

Iowa dominated the game action, out shooting Michigan State, 24-5, and holding a 14-1 advantage in penalty corners. The Hawkeyes didn’t allow a single Spartan shot in the second half and one in overtime.

Senior Kathleen McGraw picked up the victory in goal, finishing with two saves in improving to 14-5 on the year. Cassidy made 12 saves in the defeat.

Michigan State (10-10) jumped out to the early advantage when Abby Barker scored on an unassisted strike at the 10:48 mark. Barker fired from left of the circle to score her 18th goal of the season.

After finding itself down 1-0 at the half, Iowa scored the equalizer at the 46:57 mark off a penalty corner. Sophomore Dani Hemeon took the pass from Barnett and ripped her team-leading ninth goal of the season past Cassidy.

The Hawkeyes (14-5) return to action Friday, facing No. 1 seed Penn State at 1:30 p.m. (CT).

“I’m super excited, Penn State is a great team,” said Griesbaum about Friday’s semifinal match-up. “For us to have the opportunity to face the best team, when we didn’t feel great about our performance last time (we faced them), and get them on Grant Field.  We’re super-excited.”

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