October 2017

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115 T here was a time when Karly Stuenkel questioned her ability to play soccer at the University of Iowa. en she had an epiphany. Aer playing 12 games and logging 194 minutes during her 2014 freshman season, Stuenkel did some soul searching. She thought back to her club soccer days in St. Charles, Illinois, when all she dreamt about was playing in the Big Ten Conference. "I had to go back to square one and figure out why I started to play soccer in the first place," said Stuenkel. "Going back to freshman year of high school, I always wanted to do this. I thought this huge opportunity is in front of me, why am I not taking advantage of it? "at's what motivated me to switch up." e change started with strengthening her mental game. "I knew I was good enough to be playing at the level I am right now," said Stuenkel. "It was a confidence thing and I had to take the summer to figure it out and switch it from my freshman year to my sophomore year. at's where I started." One of the biggest hurdles was out of Stuenkel's control. It revolved around her 5-foot, 2-inch frame. As a midfielder, Stuenkel routinely matches up against taller opponents, so she had to find ways to succeed despite her height. "I always think about it, even now," said Stuenkel. "Being in the midfield as a center-mid, there are always balls coming at you. It's such a central position; everything goes through you." Stuenkel doesn't use her lack of height as a crutch. "I think about what I can do to compensate for what I lack," she said. "I have to make up for it in dribbling speed and quickness. I do other things to make myself match up to these Big Ten players. "I have been working on my vertical (for headers), but I know I am not going to win every time. What I have to do is get to that second ball." Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni says Stuenkel's competitiveness is one of her greatest equalizers. He says there isn't a player who wants to succeed more. "Karly is the most competitive player we have on the team and one of the most competitive I have coached," said DiIanni. "She competes every day in practice and has a will to be better than everybody else. You know you're going to get that every day." It doesn't matter if it's a game of team Jeopardy or Minute to Win It competitions in the spring. Stuenkel wants to win. "I hate losing," she said. "I have to win; I get mad when I don't." at competitiveness saw Stuenkel go from being a lightly-used reserve in 2014 to a starter as a sophomore. She was among the starting 11 in 17 games and logged 1,465 minutes. She was named Iowa's Offensive Player of the Year aer scoring five goals and tallying two assists. Stuenkel added to her honors as a junior when she was named Iowa's Co-Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year. She started all 19 games and finished second on the team with five goals and four assists. DiIanni will lean on Stuenkel to provide consistency for a young group of Hawkeyes in 2017. DiIanni needs Stuenkel to be at the forefront and lead by example.

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