On a bright and sunny day at Grant Field, the Iowa field-hockey team kicked off its 2015 campaign with the team’s annual media day.
Second-year head coach Lisa Cellucci first informed the media about senior Natalie Cafone’s status: The first-team All-American will redshirt this season because of a shoulder injury suffered during the off-season.
With the loss of a star such as Cafone, Cellucci said the news was heartbreaking, but is still confident in what the Hawkeyes can do.
“It’s been a challenge,” she said. “It was personally devastating to me, but I will do my best to help these student-athletes achieve their goals on and off the field.”
Although Cafone won’t compete, the senior noted she won’t stray from being the leader she has been.
“I’m going to try to lead them on and off the field and do what I can to help them get better every day,” Cafone said.
Cellucci said the team will have only 16 players ready to go this season. Of those, 12 are underclassmen.
Despite how young the players may be, she believes they can benefit from the upcoming season.
“We’ll be able to give a lot of people a lot of experience,” she said. “We’re not conceding the season because Natalie’s not available or because we’re young. It’s going to test our character every week.”
The squad will welcome five newcomers to the roster, Lara Bampfield, Isabella Brown, Makenna Grewe, Riley Kniptash, and Avery Semler.
Cellucci noted that losing Cafone will allow some players to play different positions and allow others to take larger leadership roles.
Junior Stephanie Norlander is one of the players Cellucci will look to lead the Hawkeyes.
With Norlander’s experience, she seems to be ready for the challenge. She also noted that this summer, she believes her game has taken leaps and bounds.
“I definitely think I have a bigger role on leadership, but I’m excited about it,” she said. “I think we can do great things.”
The team will open its season in Kentucky against Louisville on Aug. 22 and Indiana on Aug. 23.