Sept. 4, 2014
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Monday, Aug. 4, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2014-15 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Before Cloe Lacasse became a goal-scorer for the University of Iowa soccer program, she displayed her inner “Karate Kid” growing up in Canada.
“My dad and I used to watch “The Karate Kid” and “Rambo” all the time, and I know it’s a little far-fetched, but I always wanted to do that,” said Lacasse, a forward from Sudbury, Ontario. “He signed me up, and taekwondo was my primary sport over soccer (as a kid).”
Lacasse began competing in taekwondo and soccer as a 4-year old, and she participated in taekwondo until she was a teenager. She was a nationally ranked black belt competitor, traveling to provincial and national competitions throughout her youth.
When push came to shove, Lacasse chose the team sport rather than the solo mission. She says her experiences in taekwondo helped enhance her skills as a soccer player.
“There are a lot of motions in taekwondo that are similar to soccer,” she said. “Round-house kicks are half volleys, and strength-wise, my legs are stronger and balance-wise, it helped too.”
She went down the right path.
During her prep career, Lacasse was the team MVP at MacDonald Cartier Academy for three-straight seasons. She led the team in scoring as a freshman, and displayed athletic abilities across the board. She was team MVP in soccer, volleyball, and cross country during the course of her career.
“(It took) five minutes into training to recognize that Cloe was one of our better players. One training session you could see she is someone who wants to get better every day, and that she was going to train and compete to improve. That rubs off on others.”
UI head coach Dave DiIanni
Lacasse was first recruited by former UI head coach Ron Rainey during a provincial scouting event. She visited the University of Iowa during spring break and fell in love with the school.
“(When I visited) there was nobody on campus, it was a ghost town,” said Lacasse. “But I thought it was cool, and I decided to come.”
Lacasse came to Iowa City with a scorer’s mentality, and she produced the second she arrived on campus. She scored 12 goals as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore, six as a junior, and she has five goals in four games this season.
“I have always been someone that loves scoring,” said Lacasse. “Every goal is different, which makes it fun. It’s a great feeling.”
First-year head coach Dave DiIanni says Lacasse does all the little things to make her an elite goal scorer. She eats right, trains well, rehabs, and does everything she can to get her body back to 100 percent each day.
“That extenuates her pace, athleticism, change of speeds, and competitiveness,” he said. “She also reads the game. What I’ve liked about her is she’s a good study into some of the finer details of the game — how to get herself open, what’s happening when the ball is in a certain area of the field. All those things add up to why she’s a good goal scorer.”
When preseason practices began for DiIanni in August, it didn’t take long for him to realize what kind of player he had in Lacasse.
“(It took) five minutes into training to recognize that Cloe was one of our better players,” said DiIanni. “One training session you could see she is someone who wants to get better every day, and that she was going to train and compete to improve. That rubs off on others.”
Lacasse says the nine-member Iowa senior class is a tight-knit group and “is almost a little too close.” The group has led Iowa to 44 victories over the last three-plus seasons, which includes a school-record 15-7-1 record and the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history in 2013.
“Everyone was excited, it was our first time,” said Lacasse of the 2013 NCAA bid. “We broke records, and it was awesome. This year, we’re building on it. Our class has grown so much from freshmen year to senior year… we want to do it again.”
Lacasse has been front and center for the Hawkeyes from day one, and she’ll go down as one of the best players to wear a Hawkeye uniform. With virtually the entire 2014 season in front of her, Lacasse ranks second in the record book in goals (36), points (93), game-winning goals (11) and shots (238). (Sarah Lynch is the record- holder with 112 points, 46 goals, 20 game-winning strikes, and 279 shots).
“It’s something amazing to think about because when I came (to Iowa), I didn’t know what to think,” she said. “I don’t play for statistics, it’s not what I look at, but it’s a cool feeling.”
Lacasse will graduate in May, 2015, with a degree in criminal justice and communications. When her time as a Hawkeyes is complete, she hopes to continue playing in the professional ranks.
“She’ll have opportunities because of the player she is now, how she is able to sustain her success level, and at what level will be determined by some of the nuances we’re working on right now: finishing around the box and lessening some of her frustration levels at times,” said DiIanni.
“Because she is such a competitor, is so athletic, and because she loves the game, she is going to be successful.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, playing Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, in the first Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup of the year. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. (CT) at the Cyclone Sports Complex.