Feb. 7, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Five prep standouts signed National Letters of Intent with the University of Iowa field hockey program, UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum announced Thursday. Chandler Ackers (MF/D), Stephanie Norlander (F/MF), Alexandra Pecora (GK), Sophie Plasteras (MF/D), and Jessy Silfer (D) will join the Hawkeyes this fall.
"This class is exceptional," said Griesbaum, who will be in her 14th season with the program in 2013. "They have passion, grit, and enthusiasm. They are working diligently to elevate their game individually so when they arrive on campus in August, they can immediately raise the level of the team as a whole.
"There will be at least one freshman competing for playing time in each line on the field. The balance this class brings will help the depth that we currently have. We are extremely excited to sign a class of this caliber, and the Iowa field hockey program will be taking another step in a positive direction with the addition of these amazing student-athletes."
The incoming class joins a program that has advanced to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments (22 overall) and produced 83 national All-Americans. Iowa went 14-7 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten in 2012 and finished the season ranked No. 14 in the final National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll.
White Haven, Pa. - Crestwood High School
About Ackers: Ackers, a midfielder/defender from White Haven, Pa., attends Crestwood High School, the same school that produced former Hawkeye standouts Caitlin McCurdy and Lissa Munley. Ackers led Crestwood to a conference, district, and state championship in 2012. She garnered NFHCA High School Regional All-America honors and was named the 2012 Times Leader Player of the Year and Citizens Voice MVP. Ackers was a two-time first team all-state and a two-time Futures Elite selection, while also being a three-time Junior Olympian. Ackers was also a member of the 2011 USA U17 National team.
Griesbaum on Ackers: "Chandler is a strong distributer. Her vision and solid fundamentals will be helpful in our backfield. She also has the ability to organize a defense, which will be beneficial in any line."
Why Iowa? "I chose Iowa for one simple reason -- I fell in love with it when I was in fifth grade and as I got older it became my dream school. I first met Tracey and Lisa when they came to my area to coach a clinic. They were the best coaches I had ever met and really impressed me. Then I went to Grant Field for the Junior Olympics the summer before my ninth grade year and was blown away by how beautiful the city and campus were. The campus buildings were gorgeous and Grant Field was breathtaking. I feel Iowa has so much to offer me academically and athletically. In my mind, Iowa is leaps and bounds ahead. As I looked at other colleges, nothing could compare to the way I felt when I was in Iowa City. There is a very special feeling I get when I'm there -- it's home! Now that I'm committed, I feel that my life at Iowa will be the best that it could possibly be. I am excited to finally be a Hawkeye!"
Forward / Midfielder
North Vancouver, B.C., Canada - Handsworth Secondary School
About Norlander: Norlander preps at Handsworth Secondary School, the same high school as Iowa All-American Jessica Barnett, current Hawkeye Karli Johansen, and fellow signee Sophie Plasteras. Norlander, who hails from North Vancouver, Canada, is currently teammates with Johansen on the U21 Canadian National Team. Norlander was selected to the squad in 2012. She led Handsworth to Provincial Championship titles in 2011 and 2012, serving as a co-captain with Plasteras in 2012. The forward/midfielder was also named captain of the U17 Canadian Junior National team for a test series against the USA after being chosen to the team in the summer of 2011. Norlander was selected to the Field Hockey BC Provincial team for four consecutive seasons, winning national titles in 2011 and 2012.
Griesbaum on Norlander: "Stephanie is a prolific attacker. She combines speed with skill and the ability to eliminate. Her athleticism and eye for the goal will give us another great offensive-minded player on the forward line."
Why Iowa? "I chose Iowa because from the very first day I visited the campus, I knew it was a place I could fit in. I felt relaxed, and I knew it was somewhere I could grow as a student and as an athlete. The team made me feel welcome, and I had a lot of fun with them. I can't wait to play in the Big Ten Conference and even more importantly, to play as a Hawkeye!"
Marlton, N.J. - Bishop Eustace
About Pecora: Pecora, a goalkeeper from Marlton, N.J., played high school field hockey for Bishop Eustace Prep School, where she led the Crusaders to New Jersey state championships in 2010 and 2012 and conference championships in 2010 and 2011. Pecora served as team captain in 2012, and she garnered first team all-conference goalkeeper and All-South Jersey honors three times and was an all-state selection twice. Pecora has been a three-time Futures Championship participant, and she also pitches on the softball team.
Griesbaum on Pecora: "Alex has solid fundamental skills in goal. She is a great athlete and brings that all-around skill to the goalkeeping position. She will raise the level of our play immediately."
Why Iowa? "I chose to attend the University of Iowa because I felt that the school fits everything that I am looking for in a University. I like the idea of a big school and I love the campus. There are great opportunities for me to have success on the field and in the classroom. I am very excited and honored to get the chance to play field hockey at the University of Iowa, and I cannot wait to be a part of the tradition."
Midfielder / Forward
North Vancouver, B.C., Canada - Handsworth Secondary School
About Plasteras: Plasteras competed at Handsworth Secondary School, the same high school as Iowa All-American Jessica Barnett, current Hawkeye Karli Johansen, and fellow signee Stephanie Norlander. Plasteras, who plays the midfield or forward position, served as a co-captain with Norlander at Handsworth in 2012, leading the school to Provincial Championship titles in 2011 and 2012. She was selected four consecutive years to the Field Hockey BC Provincial teams, playing on U16 and U18 teams that won national championships from 2009-12. Plasteras was named to the Tournament XI at the Canadian Nationals in 2011. She was a member of the Canadian Junior National Squad, playing in a 2012 test series against the USA U17 National team. She also competed form West Vancouver Field Hockey Adanacs Festival and Disney teams that won medals in 2010 and 2011. Plasteras was a three-time first team All Star-North Sore Triple A honoree. She also excels in the classroom, as she is a four-year honor student.
Griesbaum on Plasteras: "Sophie possesses a high level of fundamentals and is a very versatile player. Her effectiveness on both sides of the ball will help our midfield immediately."
Why Iowa? "I chose Iowa because it has a great combination of strong academics and a competitive field hockey team. I love the college town feel and the way the whole community gets behind all of the Hawkeye sports -- it seems like one big family! I'm really excited for the upcoming season and look forward to getting on campus."
Cazenovia, N.Y. - Cazenovia Central High School
About Silfer: Silfer, a Cazenovia, N.Y., native, served as a team captain for Cazenovia Central High School in 2012, earning the Most Outstanding Player Award and NFCHA Regional All-America honors. Silfer, a defender, was tabbed as her team's 2011 Defensive MVP. She led her team to two New York State Class C Field Hockey championships and three New York State Section III Class C titles. Silfer was a two-time all-state, a two-time New York State all-star team, a two-time All-Central New York team, and a two-time Onodaga High School League first team selection. In the classroom, Silfer was a four-year Scholar Athlete, a three-year National Honor Society member, and a 2012 U.S. Lacrosse High School Academic All-American team selection.
Griesbaum on Silfer: "Jessy is a very disciplined athlete. She takes pride in her preparation and work ethic. Jessy will be a great asset to our program in the backfield."
Why Iowa? "Initially, Iowa was just the name of a university in the Midwest that had a strong field hockey tradition. Once I arrived on campus, I quickly realized that the name stood for much more. There is a standard. At Iowa, all athletes are expected to work hard, be strong, and successful -- which is important to me because I want to play with others who are determined to achieve their goals. The university also provides its athletes with the best facilities and coaches to ensure their success. The Iowa standard not only applies to athletics, but also to the classroom. Iowa is a highly-ranked public university. However, I love the atmosphere best of all. While visiting Iowa, I saw a basketball game and a wrestling match inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. At both events, all of the fans were dressed in black and gold, and sang the Iowa Fight song with the pep band. The passion and pride toward the Hawkeyes made me realize that I would be part of a huge family including my teammates, coaches, friends, and fans. That's when I knew, I wanted to be a Hawkeye."