Oct. 12, 2015
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- 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 DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When it comes to speed and power, few collegiate field hockey players compare to University of Iowa junior Stephanie Norlander.
She also beats most student-athletes when it comes to frequent flyer miles.
Quickness and brawn have made Norlander one of the best field hockey players in the country – that goes for her homeland of Canada as well as the United States of America. Now she brings added experience into her third season as a Hawkeye after participating in a six-month international tour that took her to New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, and ended at the Pan-American Games in Toronto.
In order to facilitate such an intense travel schedule, Norlander took online courses while she was away from Iowa for eight months from December 2014 to August 2015.
“I’m excited to be back. It’s different playing internationally and then coming back here,” Norlander said. “It’s a bit of an adjustment, but I think it will be a good season and we’ll be able to achieve the goals we have set.”
The travel began for Norlander once she made the Canadian Senior Team. A highlight was when Canada opened the Pan-Am Games on July 13 with a 12-1 victory against the Dominican Republic and Norlander scored three goals. She started at forward 11 days later in the bronze medal match – a 1-0 win for Canada over Chile.
“Individually I grew on that team as my role changed,” Norlander said. “I became a starter and that was cool. I felt more confident at the national level.”
She brought that confidence back to Grant Field.
After the first 14 games of 2015, Norlander leads the Hawkeyes with 14 goals and 32 points. In a three-game stretch from Sept. 12-18, she scored six goals: a hat trick against St. Louis, two against Kent State, and the final goal of a 4-3 win against Rutgers in the Big Ten Conference opener.
In 50 career matches, Norlander has 38 goals and 10 assists for 86 points. And in the past three seasons, the Hawkeyes are 32-21.
“She is a die-hard competitor and cannot stand to lose in anything she does,” UI head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “She carries herself in a great manner and is very poised. She communicates when necessary, but otherwise has a lot of quiet confidence about her.”
Norlander attended Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver, British Columbia, and led the Royals to Provincial Championship titles in 2011 and 2012. Other notable Handsworth alumnae are Jessica Barnett, Karli Johansen, and Sophie Plasteras. Barnett was an All-American at Iowa and is now volunteer assistant coach for the Hawkeyes. Johansen started 65 games for Iowa from 2010-13, and Plasteras is a Hawkeye junior who has appeared in nine matches with three assists.
“She is a die-hard competitor and cannot stand to lose in anything she does. She carries herself in a great manner and is very poised. She communicates when necessary, but otherwise has a lot of quiet confidence about her.”
UI field hockey coach
“I knew (Jessica and Karli) were down here and they loved it,” Norlander said. “When I started looking into colleges, I asked them a lot of questions. I visited and I loved it from the first moment I stepped on campus.”
Norlander also took visits to Boston College, Boston University, and Stanford.
Norlander was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year in 2013 and followed that by becoming a first-team all-conference selection as a sophomore. She was also named second-team Longstretch/National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American in 2014.
“It’s motivational because I want to live up that and I want to prove I deserve to be there,” Norlander said.
One of Norlander’s finest traits is that honors do not go to her head.
“She is very humble and goes about her business,” Cellucci said. “She is one of the best players in the country, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to her; we love that about her. She is kind of a silent leader who leads by example.”
Norlander was required to assume more of a leadership role when it was announced that All-American Natalie Cafone would miss the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury. In her first three seasons, Cafone scored 48 goals in 60 games with 15 assists and 111 points. The Hawkeyes have five freshmen on the roster and two are starters.
“My leadership role is much bigger than last year from everything on the field, off the field, leading the freshmen, the sophomore class, my class, and even helping our seniors,” Norlander said. “It is a devastating loss not to have Natalie up there with me. I have put a little more of the load on myself.”
Norlander and the Hawkeyes have high expectations this fall after winning 24 games the past two seasons.
“This program is so powerful and the culture of Iowa field hockey is like no other program in the country,” Norlander said. “My first two years here were good and we did well, but this year we want to win the Big Ten championship and make the NCAA Tournament.”
An exercise science major, Norlander is considering physical therapy school or becoming a registered dietician. But when her Hawkeye playing days have concluded she wants to continue with the Canadian National Team.
“She is an outstanding student-athlete,” Cellucci said. “She is conscientious, takes a lot of pride in her preparation, and is always physically and mentally prepared every day.”