Cafone, Pfeiffer ready for play with Team USA

BY ERIN ERICKSON | JULY 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Natalie Cafone went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, expecting nothing but great competition and a fun experience. Not expecting to make the U.S. national team, she was astonished to receive an email a few days later saying she had earned a spot on the field-hockey squad.

A few days later it became official when U.S. head coach Craig Parnham and the national team coaching staff officially released the roster for the 2014-15 season, making Cafone the 22nd Hawkeye named to the squad.

“It’s really cool; I didn’t expect to make the team, but it was a fun tournament working with athletes,” Cafone said. “I am really looking forward to getting better and working hard with top-level players.”

Given her résumé after two seasons at Iowa, it may not be such a surprise. She earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and was one of four true freshmen to see action in the 2012 season.

As a sophomore, Cafone started all 21 of Iowa’s contests, averaging 2.48 points per game — good for first in all of Division-I field hockey.

“None of it would be possible with out my teammates from Iowa,” she said. “They are the ones that push me every day throughout the whole year to get me where I am.”

Although she never played with Cafone at Iowa, former Hawkeye standout Lauren Pfeiffer will join Cafone on the nation’s top women’s squad.

Pfeiffer has been a member of Team USA team since 2009.

“Natalie is a very capable player with a lot of talent and a lot of speed as a forward … I am so excited to be able to play with her,” Pfeiffer said.

During her time at Iowa, she earned many accolades in the Big Ten and on a national scale, including being a two-time All-American.

“It’s kind of neat being a senior player in this tournament and being a leader on the team,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to coach these kids and help them out.”

Iowa head coach Tracey Griesbaum made the trip to Lancaster to watch the two Hawks compete.

“It was a tournament where you had to show what you were capable of game in and game out,” Griesbaum said in a release. “Lauren and Natalie utilized their attributes each game to help their team win and to catch the attention of [Parnham] and the national team coaching staff."

“I enjoyed watching them compete and am happy about their selection to the team. To represent your country is a big honor. The Hawkeye family has a lot to be proud of.”

Cafone will begin training with the team on July 14.

“I am really looking forward to getting better, working hard with top-level players, especially Lauren, since I didn’t get to play with her when she was at Iowa,” Cafone said.

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