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Cafone impressing Hawkeye coaches, teammates

BY DANNY PAYNE | SEPTEMBER 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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There are two things very evident about Natalie Cafone — she is very athletic and a good teammate.

To prove the former, look no further than the Iowa sophomore’s high-school résumé. Cafone was a four-year varsity starter at West Essex High in field hockey, where she holds the record the most points in school history with 350 — 135 goals and 80 assists. During her time in North Caldwell, N.J., she was also a four-year member of the school’s basketball and lacrosse teams.

Is that enough evidence? No? Well just ask 14th-year Iowa head coach Tracey Griesbaum.

“She is such a great athlete and such a great competitor,” Griesbaum said. “This weekend she showed dynamicy on defense, she showed dynamicy on attack, she calls our penalty strokes, she set up our goals, she scored goals — she pretty much did everything that we could possibly ask for.”

In the opening weekend of the season, Cafone scored a goal against Bucknell on Aug. 30 and dished out an assist to fellow forward Stephanie Norlander on Sept. 1 when the 13th ranked Hawkeyes defeated Lafayette 3-0. Cafone also registered a team-high three shots against Lafayette.

Although one may think a student-athlete of Cafone’s caliber would be self-absorbed and enjoy the limelight, that couldn’t be further from the truth for the Fairfield, N.J. resident. She is polite and soft-spoken during interviews and routinely talks about the team rather than about her own accomplishments.

In fact, during the interview for this feature, she used the pronoun “I” only two times — “I mean, I think it was basically a team effort,” she said, referring to the Iowa’s 2-0 start.

By comparison, she referred to the team as a whole — whether it be “us,” “we,” “our,” “the team,” etc. — 11 times in fewer than 70 seconds.

Her teammates notice and appreciate her dedication to the Iowa field-hockey program, specifically Aubrey Coleman. The senior and fellow New Jerseyan cited the positive energy Cafone brings on the field for the Hawkeyes.

“She a lot of times plays right in front of me,” Coleman said. “She is always saying, ‘Let’s get that goal, let’s get the next one, this is our game.’ She just has really good energy.”

Although she may seem soft spoken and reserved, Coleman reports that Cafone also likes to enjoy herself with her team off the pitch.

“Off the field she is very similar [to on the field] — she has a very happy and upbeat personality. In the locker room, she’s dancing and engaged with everyone all the time,” Coleman said with a giggle and a smile.

With her combination of athletic ability and chemistry with her teammates, what is next for number nine in black and gold? Her head coach expects big things from Cafone this season — and beyond.

“As she gets more and more touches and more actual repetitions of playing hockey at this level, she is only going to get better,” Griesbaum said. “There is no other facet she doesn’t have.”


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