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Monday, Oct. 22, 2018
Lacasse lasooes scholarship with Hawkeyes
by Randy Pascal

Perhaps it only seems that the “Cloé Lacasse watch” has been going on forever. First rising to prominence as a national competitor in tae kwon do, the ultra athletic Macdonald-Cartier senior has enjoyed soccer stardom since his early teens.

Having led her school team to an OFSAA championship and the Sudbury Canadians to more victories than she would care to remember, Lacasse prepares to take the next step in her journey.

Come the fall, the speedy striker will suit up with the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, accepting a soccer scholarship to the Midwestern U.S. school and ending a stretch of endless observation that seems to date back far more than the past six years.

“It was always something I was conscious of, because I’ve always wanted to continue my soccer career,” Lacasse said recently. “I didn’t want it to stop after high school.”

“But the pressure was positive, because it pushed me to become a better player.” By the age of 12 or 13, she had caught the eye of provincial level coaches, most notably with her quickness and uncanny ability to contribute offensively.

“Cloé is a goal scorer, pure and simple,” noted Iowa head coach Ron Rainey on a university issued media release. "She has that mentality to put the ball in the back of the net and she does some of the little things that help create attacking chances in games."

Lacasse owes much of her on-going development to a variety of sources, including a handful very close to home. “The core of the Sudbury Canadians team really helped me improve, because we have some really talented players that pushed me to get better.”

Built around a group that often featured Lacasse, Serena San Cartier and Karolyne Blain, the Canadians offered the young ladies the opportunity to showcase their skills. “Frank (Malvaso) has done so much for me, and really helped me along.”

Still, Lacasse was keenly aware of the need to obtain input from different coaches, ranging from her experience with the provincial teams to joining Brams United last summer in Brampton for additional OYSL competition.

“The Brams played more of a passing game, and in Sudbury, we used our biggest asset, which was our speed,” Lacasse said. “They played three up front, Sudbury always played two up front, so I had to change my style a little bit.”

As well-known as she is for her soccer skills, Lacasse has earned a very deserving reputation as one of the most well-rounded athletes the SDSSAA system has ever produced, a definite plus in her books.

“Every other sport has its assets that can help you with soccer,” she said. “Cross country helps your cardio, badminton helps you pivot, it’s always quick sprints to the corners, volleyball helps your vertical. Every sport has something to gain.”

No surprise that an athlete who combines so many of these assets should garner considerable attention. But Lacasse admits she favoured Iowa almost from the start.

“Iowa has always had a very strong program and past (Ontario) provincial players have gone there as well,” said Lacasse. “Ron (Rainey), the coach from Iowa, was always persuasive in a nice way. He wouldn’t push it, but I knew he wanted me to play there.”

But it will be a change. Driving to the Midwest take days, not hours. “After you get out of Wisconsin and you enter Iowa, it’s all farms – all you see if farms,” said Lacasse with a smile.

“But then you get to Iowa City and it’s really nice. It’s mainly all students. The city is based on the university, so it’s a really cool atmostphere.”

While Lacasse will undergo an adjustment, the same can be said, perhaps moreso, of her mother Manon (father is Paul), an almost constant companion of her daughter at an overwhelming majority of her soccer games over the years.

“Because of the Brams experience, being away from home for a while, I’ve already experienced that,” said Cloé. “It will be a bit different, because she (my mother) has always been three hours away – but she’ll get used to it.”

During a mid-winter trip to Sudbury, Rainey noted the similarity within the general personality of folks in Iowa and Ontario, something that should help the transition as he scouted in the hopes of finding a key component to help his team.

“You want to have players that battle, that are very comfortable on top of the ball, very technical players who think the game tactically, who can read the play well ahead of time,” Rainey said.

“And then you look for athleticism.” And as those who have spent years vigilantly following the “Cloé watch,” this girl certainly fits the bill.

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