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Putting Cloe Lacasse and Iceland back on the radar

Out of sight, out of mind.

Unfortunately, this axiom can sometimes hold true for our local homegrown athletes, once they begin plying their trades in far away lands.

This is all the more likely when their destination of choice might not garner the kind of headlines that are that sure to be scooped up by those of us back home who had become accustomed to witnessing the athletic marvel that are some of Sudbury's most elite young talent.

With the population of an entire country that tops out at slightly more than double that of the CGS (City of Greater Sudbury), Iceland clearly qualifies as one of those under the radar outlets. In that sense, it has become quite easy to forget about the accomplishments of Ecole Secondaire Macdonald-Cartier graduate Cloe Lacasse.

Thankfully, and perhaps fittingly on the week in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, we were reminded, once again, of her super special soccer skill-set. Completing her fourth year with IBV (Vestmannaeyjar) in the Iceland Women's Urvalsdeikl, the 25-year old local product was recognized as the league's top player in the eyes of the daily paper (Morgunbladid), which covers the island's 10-team league.

Sitting third on her team in total minutes played (1489), Lacasse showed the way in the team scoring parade, as per usual, netting 10 goals in 17 games for a squad which ranked right in the middle of the standings. Over the course of her 67-game four year career in Iceland, the second leading all-time scorer in the history of the Iowa Hawkeyes (NCAA) women's program has now accumulated a total of 43 strikes that would find the back of the net, hitting double digits in each of the past three years.

Her time in the land of ice, geysers and active volcanoes has seen Lacasse both tap into some of the same natural athleticism that would see her team-up with the likes of Karolyne Blain in leading the ESMC Panthères to a pair of OFSAA soccer banners, but also continue to evolve her game with added maturity.

“I think my game still has the strengths that it did back in my youth career,” noted Lacasse in recent email correspondence. “However, I have added new skills and developed the old ones immensely. European soccer is much more technical, in my opinion, in comparison to soccer back home, where athleticism was usually the main emphasis.”

Though she has acknowledged keeping her options open, negotiating both with club teams in Iceland and elsewhere in Europe, searching for the best fit to further her soccer dreams, Lacasse is quick to note that her first professional home base is one to which she has grown rapidly and deeply attached. It hasn't hurt that that the focus of her sporting interest has risen in tandem with the attention of the general Iceland populus, the nordic island garnering much international attention on the pitch over the course of the past decade or so.

“Iceland is a small country that is extremely passionate about soccer,” suggested Lacasse. “Their men's team qualified for the World Cup that just passed, the smallest nation ever to qualify, a remarkable accomplishment for Iceland. The women have recently beaten Germany, which is known to be the best women's national team in the world.”

“This country has created great soccer players, and I know that continuing here will only be beneficial for my development.” In fact, the link between Lacasse and Iceland is so tight, so enduring, that the one-time martial arts star is seriously pondering obtaining her citizenship papers, a move that would allow her to potentially compete for a spot on the national team.

In the meantime, she will continue to enjoy her quasi Arctic Circle outpost that is warmed by the effects of the Gulf Stream, taking in all that a land that has seen a boom in tourism has to offer. “The landscape is one of the most beautiful that I have ever had the opportunity of seeing,” said Lacasse. “The Icelandic people are extremely welcoming and open to sharing their culture with visitors.”

To that end, she is quick to extend a personal invitation for friends, family and northern Ontario folks, in general, to pay a visit to the country that has served as the filming location for much of the “Games of Thrones” saga.

This from the Sudbury native who sits, metaphorically speaking, near the pinnacle of the soccer throne in her home away from home. Lacasse has absolutely pieced together a soccer resumé that deserves some attention, back in the area where her roots in the sport are grounded, even if it's easy, at times, to lose track of her accomplishments.

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