Aug. 17, 2015
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- =”” class=”pagelinks”>24 Hawkeyes to Watch
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, July 29, 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 2015-16 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 — When the University of Iowa soccer program saw 10 seniors graduate following the 2014 season, Hannah Clark knew it was her turn to step up.
Clark has been a constant at goalkeeper in her first three seasons with the Hawkeyes, playing in 62 career games, but she knew she needed to do more as a senior.
“The senior class stepped up for us,” said Clark, a Fort Collins, Colorado, native. “They were the group that was leading us throughout my career. I thought it was time to step up. We needed new leadership and I thought I could do the job.”
Last spring, Clark went to UI head coach Dave DiIanni, asking to shoulder more leadership responsibilities.
“Hannah was aggressive in saying she wanted to be one of the individuals we could count on,” said DiIanni. “She was very vocal about wanting to enhance her experience at the University of Iowa.
“She has been successful on the field, being a part of two successful teams in her three years, but she has some greater goals, and one of them was to grow her experience off the field as a leader and have people look at her in a different light.
“She was great in the offseason with setting the standard and holding people to that with accountability.”
Clark’s on-field resume speaks loudly. She is the Iowa school record holder in career shutouts, notching 20 in her first three seasons. She is second in career wins with 29, seven shy of Emily Moran’s school record, and is third with 216 career saves.
Growing up in North Carolina, Clark got involved in soccer by following her father’s footsteps, picking up the game at the age of five. Her father’s influence contributed to Clark’s growing love for the sport.
“(My dad) played collegiately at Marshall and he was a goalkeeper, too,” said Clark. “Growing up, he taught me everything he knew. From there I could train with other people so I was always ahead of the game.”
“It’s critical to have Hannah be the leader of our program both on and off the field. If she can be a consistent voice and be all in with what we’re trying to accomplish, that’s going to be helpful for us. (Having Hannah) allows us to not focus so much on the goalkeeping and leadership because she has developed as much as she has.”
UI head coach Dave DiIanni
After moving to Colorado at age nine, Clark dabbled in basketball and soccer, but her main focus was always on soccer. She played for the Arsenal Football Club from 2004-07 before transitioning to the Colorado Rush club team with an eye on playing collegiate soccer.
While competing in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), she made her first contact with the UI and then head coach Ron Rainey.
“I initially sent Ron an email and he responded,” said Clark. “That got things rolling in Iowa.”
During Clark’s first season on campus she found herself in a three-way freshman goalkeeper competition with Meg Goodson and Kiley Beck. Clark played in a team-high 21 games, but started just six contests. She finished with a 4-2-3 record, making 55 saves, and posting a 0.99 goals against average.
It was during that freshman season where Clark learned what it took to be a collegiate goalkeeper.
“It was a good experience,” she said. “Meg pushed me to play harder and we were vying for position. It was good for both of us; it made us better.”
Clark was the goalkeeper the following season after Goodson transferred. She played every minute of every game during Iowa’s record-setting 2013 season, winning a school-record 15 games and posting a single-season record 10 shutouts.
After qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 8 seed, Clark led Iowa to the championship game with victories over No. 7 Michigan (1-0) and No. 20 Penn State, before falling 1-0 to No. 18 Nebraska in the championship. The tournament run helped Iowa earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament — the first in program history.
DiIanni took over the Iowa program prior to the start of 2014, and when the regular season rolled around, Clark found herself in an unfamiliar position…on the bench.
Clark didn’t sulk; she put her head down and went to work. It showed maturity.
“It was tough not playing,” said Clark. “That gave me the extra push that I needed to get myself together. It made me work harder, and it made me realize where I wanted to be on the field.”
“Hannah has some deep-rooted core values and expectations in herself,” said DiIanni. “She and (assistant coach) Julie Hanley have built a nice relationship in terms of (Hannah) asking for extra help.
“(It was) how can I get myself to where I need to be to reclaim the No. 1 spot and the standards I am accustomed to? I think the world of her for that.”
After seeing limited action in the first five games, Clark returned to the lineup Sept. 7 at Colorado State, leading Iowa to a shutout against her hometown team. She won 10 games, including nine by shutout, and led the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for a second straight season — a 1-0 double overtime loss against No. 11 Wisconsin, where Clark was injured in the 94th minute.
“You always think about what-ifs,” said Clark of the injury in the championship game. “What if I didn’t get hurt, what if this didn’t happen or that…but at the end of the day, our team did a good job of handling it. Wisconsin scored a nice goal.”
Clark enters her final go-round as one of four seniors on an Iowa roster along with Brooke Backes, Mackenzie Guindon, and Sarah Mazur. The roster features 10 freshmen and 19 first or second year players.
Having Clark in goal gives DiIanni comfort.
“It’s critical to have Hannah be the leader of our program both on and off the field,” said DiIanni. “If she can be a consistent voice and be all in with what we’re trying to accomplish, that’s going to be helpful for us.
“(Having Hannah) allows us to not focus so much on the goalkeeping and leadership because she has developed as much as she has.”
Clark is stepping up, as a leader and team captain.