Norlander bringing Pan Am Cup experience back to Iowa


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Stephanie Norlander looked exhausted after the Hawkeyes’ field-hockey practice Tuesday afternoon — and rightfully so.

To say the freshman has been through a whirlwind of events over the last few weeks would be an understatement. She competed for Team Canada in the Pan American Cup from Sept. 21-28 and jumped right back into things Tuesday after returning to Iowa City on Monday.

“It was a long day [Monday]; I’m a bit mentally tired today,” the native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, said.

However, despite the long journey, it was a successful trip for Norlander, former Hawkeye Jess Barnett, and Team Canada — they took home the bronze medal in the tournament.

“It was a great result for Canada as a whole,” Barnett said. “It was definintely a success, for sure.”

For Norlander, her first taste of play with her country’s top team was highlighted by a goal in her team’s first match of the tournament against Guyana and against Trinidad & Tobago.

Other than her play on the field, one of the things of the things that impressed Barnett most was the way Norlander handled the hype and pressure surrounding a tournament as big as the Pan Am Cup. The three-time Big Ten honoree said Norlander fit right in with the high level of play.

“It’s definintely a big deal for someone like her coming in and making a statement on the international stage like that,” Barnett said. “I’m sure it was nerve-racking the first couple games, but she showed us she fit in really well.”

Now that one of Team Canada’s youngest members is back wearing the Black and Gold, she will try to use the experience to help her team.

Her Hawkeye teammates and coaches are happy to have her back in Iowa City.

“It’s big,” head coach Tracey Griesbaum said. “Getting Steph back, this is kind of our first weekend that I think we’re going to be super ready to go for the first time in about three weeks.”

Based on her experience playing internationally, Barnett thinks it will play dividends for the young Hawkeye.

Because the level of play is so much higher and the speed of the game faster than at the college level, she doesn’t think Norlander will have any trouble coming back to NCAA play.

“You have to learn how to make decisions much quicker [at the international level],” said Barnett, a two-time All-American. “Being able to see the field and making adequate decisions at the right time and executing them in a timely manner.”

Barnett and Norlander are both graduates of Handsworth Secondary in North Vancouver, but because of their age difference, they never played together in high school. However, the younger of the duo was glad to get the opportunity to play with her alumna, saying Barnett is a lot of fun to be on the pitch with.

Norlander thoroughly enjoyed playing with Barnett and Team Canada, but she knows is ready to play the first Big Ten game of her career Saturday against Michigan.

“I’ll be ready to go Saturday,” Norlander said. “It’s definintely a must-win.”

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