Iowa soccer player a Team Canada hopeful

BY TOM CLOS | JUNE 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa women's soccer freshman Cloe Lacasse showed the nation what she could do on the field when she recorded 30 points on 12 goals and helped the Hawkeyes to a 13-4-3 record last season.

Now, she wants to show the world.

The Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, native was recognized twice as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week last fall, and she collected the Hawkeye Offensive Player of the Year award at season's end. Her season also ranks second in school history for most points and goals scored in a single year.

This grabbed the attention of the Great White North.

Lacasse was recently selected as one of 24 players to attend the Canadian Women's Under-20 National Team's summer camp from July 3-9. If the young Hawkeye can make the team, she will have the opportunity to take her talents onto an international stage.

Iowa soccer head coach Ron Rainey said that a opportunity such as this is invaluable to a young player such as Lacasse.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the chance to train with some of the top players in her country," head coach Ron Rainey said. "If she's able to make the roster, there is a U-20 World Cup in Japan in August she can play in."

Rainey said he wasn't surprised that the Hawkeyes' leading scorer in 2011 was given the chance to play on a global stage and that she could be a valuable asset to team Canada.

"Cloe does very composed things in the attacking turf," he said. "Somebody who can score goals and create chances at such a high level is very appealing."

Assistant coach Julie Hanley, who has only been in Iowa City since April, said that Lacasse's drive to succeed has made an impression on her.

"She's one of the most competitive kids on our team, a great representative for our program, and she deserves this," Hanley said. "Cloe has done well for us and will for Canada as well."

Iowa junior defender Gabrielle Ainsworth said that she has not only witnessed Lacasse's offensive prowess but also her high soccer IQ.

"Her biggest strength is her quickness and ability to control the ball," Ainsworth said. "Cloe is a crafty, confident player, but she's willing to make mistakes — that will help her in the long run."

Rainey is confident that Lacasse will make a strong bid for a roster spot at the camp, and he said her year in Iowa City has given her the tools to succeed on an international stage.

"Playing against high-caliber competition in the Big Ten has given Cloe a better understanding of what it takes to be a goal-scorer and a playmaker in the league," Rainey said.

Ainsworth noted the young Hawkeye's high standards and said they have made a substantial impact on the team, most notably her fellow freshmen.

"She's always trying new things or is willing to work on whatever she needs to," Ainsworth said. "It's been important for her growth as a player. Sometimes, we don't even have practice, and she works out on her own."

Being only 18 years old, the chance Lacasse is selected for the national team may not be favorable, but Rainey said that as long as she does two things north of the border, it will be worth it.

"We told her when she got this opportunity to work hard and have fun," Rainey said. "If she does that, she'll have a great experience."

Ainsworth acknowledged how intimidating it can be but said an opportunity such as this is "huge" for a player.

"She has a lot of pressure on her shoulders, but I have no doubt that she will be able to succeed at the camp," Ainsworth said. "She's very goal-driven and motivated. Hopefully, she takes it a step further and makes the team."

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