October 2016

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97 N atalie Winters had a leg up when it came to transitioning to the University of Iowa soccer program. A freshman from Plymouth, Michigan, Winters joined the Hawkeyes with U.S. Women's National Team experience. She competed at six U18 team camps — four in California and one in Spain and England — prior to her move to Iowa City. "at experience was invaluable for Natalie," said UI head coach Dave DiIanni. "Whenever you can have international experience and playing in her own national camp was beneficial. She competed against the best players in her age group across the country, so she isn't as overwhelmed as a normal incoming freshman would be." Winters used the elite-level experience to become an instant contributor as a Hawkeye. Winters, who is one of four players to start all 13 games this season, has scored one goal — on a penalty kick — and has three assists. She also attempts the team's corner kicks. "We knew Natalie was going to give us an upgrade technically and tactically," said DiIanni. "Playing at such a high level coming into college, we knew the speed of the game wasn't going to overwhelm her." Winters used her elite-level experience with the National Team to her benefit. "You never know what is going to happen playing at a high level with the national team," said Win- ters. "I competed and tried to do my best with the national team. at helped my mentality coming (to Iowa) and trying to prove myself. "I knew I had to try my hardest and compete every time I stepped on the field. My main focus was coming in and competing every day." e Hawkeyes started the season with six wins in their first seven games before facing adversity in Big Ten play. Iowa lost its first four league contests before securing its first win — 1-0 over Purdue — on Sept. 30. "I knew it was going to be a chal- lenge in the Big Ten," said Winters. "Everything is a lot more competi- tive and you have to come out strong and match the other team's mentality. Getting that experience and playing in those Big Ten games has helped me get better as a player." Winters hopes the home win over Purdue will springboard the Hawkeyes during the final third of the season. "It is going to help us move forward," she said. "We had been fighting for that first win, and it finally paid off. We're excited to see what is in store for us in the future." OCTOBER SCHEDULE Oct. 6 at Minnesota Oct. 9 at Wisconsin Oct. 13 Northwestern Oct. 16 Illinois (Senior Day) Oct. 21 at Maryland Oct. 26 at Nebraska Oct. 30 at Big Ten Tournament

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