IOWA CITY — As Iowa head subject hockey coach Lisa Cellucci recruits athletes from the world over, different faculties “negatively recruit on a regular basis.”
“They’re like, ‘What are you going to do in Iowa?’” Cellucci stated.
In Dionne van Aalsum’s case, the reply has been scoring numerous objectives.
Van Aalsum, regardless of solely being a freshman, leads the nation with 23 objectives by way of 11 video games, and it’s not significantly shut.
The subsequent-best participant, Caroline Ramsey of Cornell, has 17 objectives. Ohio State’s Makenna Webster has 14 objectives.
Van Aalsum individually has extra objectives than most Division I subject hockey packages have as complete groups. That features two of Iowa’s subsequent three opponents — Indiana and Louisville.
“She is on tempo proper now to only rewrite file books,” Cellucci informed The Gazette.
Van Aalsum’s 2.06 objectives per recreation, if continued by way of the remainder of the season, can be considerably increased than any subject hockey athlete within the earlier 10 seasons. UConn’s Charlotte Veitner was the closest to van Aalsum’s present mark with 1.7 objectives per recreation in 2015.
It’s not solely the amount of the objectives that stand out, however the consistency. Van Aalsum has scored at the least one purpose in 10 of the Hawkeyes’ 11 video games this season. She scored two-plus objectives in every of Iowa’s first eight video games.
Van Aalsum is having loads of enjoyable within the course of. She views enjoying school subject hockey as a “once-in-a-lifetime alternative.”
“Each recreation and each apply is a enjoyable second for me,” van Aalsum stated. “I’m actually having fun with it.”
One of many greater cultural surprises for the Dutch midfielder has been “that the game is so large in school.”
“As a result of within the Netherlands, you don’t have that,” van Aalsum stated. “Right here, it’s like probably the most skilled sport you possibly can see, in order that’s actually cool to be part of that.”
Van Aalsum attributed her success to “numerous apply hours” and asking questions.
“If I don’t know one thing, simply ask about it,” van Aalsum stated. “And actually put the hassle into understanding play with the ladies and simply being extra of a workforce day by day.”
At “slightly below six ft,” van Aalsum brings a novel mixture of measurement and velocity.
“She’s sooner with the ball than she is with out it,” Cellucci stated. “She simply turns it into one other gear when she will get going.”
She additionally has a “nice knack to have the ability to sense stress” and react, Cellucci stated.
“She has one of many highest hockey IQs on our workforce,” Cellucci stated. “Tactically, this has been a fairly seamless transition for her.”
It helps that van Aalsum began enjoying subject hockey at an early age. By the point she was in her later years of secondary faculty, she was enjoying within the highest youth league for her age group.
“The extent of play and ability is a lot increased there as a result of they play on astroturf from such an early age,” Cellucci stated. “It’s actually, actually set her up nicely.”
Cellucci has seen a “quiet confidence” from van Aalsum.
“She is aware of she will get it performed, and he or she simply does it,” Cellucci stated.
That confidence was particularly on show because the Hawkeyes had been having “a little bit little bit of a tricky time” early of their recreation final month towards Vermont.
“I referred to as her over and gave her a special penalty nook look that wasn’t on our set performs of what we had been doing,” Callucci stated. “I am like, ‘Do you perceive that?'”
It was not a lot of a query for Van Aalsum.
“Don’t fear about it, I bought this,” Cellucci remembers Van Aalsum telling her. “I’ll get a couple of.”
Van Aalsum was not simply speaking about a couple of beauty. She was speaking about a couple of objectives, and he or she delivered with three objectives within the win over the Catamounts.
“Within the video games that Dionne scored three or 4 objectives, that’s like scoring 40 factors in basketball,“ Cellucci stated.
Many individuals have introduced up the thought of van Aalsum being the “Caitlin Clark of subject hockey,” however Cellucci is hesitant to place the stress that comes with that label on van Aalsum.
“I can see why persons are saying that,” Cellucci stated. “I’ll take it as a result of Caitlin Clark’s unbelievable. … However we nonetheless have numerous hockey left to play, so let’s see how the second half of the season goes.”
Opposing groups have taken discover of van Aalsum’s success and more and more game-planned towards her.
“They’re going to be a little bit bit extra onto me, however that’s high quality,” van Aalsum stated. “I’ve to work with it, so simply maintain doing what I’m doing and simply be extra conscious of the individuals round me.”
By the third weekend of the season, Cellucci seen opponents “positively had their eye on her.”
“The largest studying curve for her goes to be now that she’s so recognized after which groups double- and triple-teaming her,” Cellucci stated.
That studying curve is unlikely to let up within the close to future with 4 of the Hawkeyes’ six remaining regular-season opponents ranked within the high 10 of the coaches ballot.
Already, van Aalsum has “actually helped speed up” the Hawkeyes’ rebuild after dropping eight seniors final 12 months, Cellucci stated. Iowa was the No. 1 workforce within the nation for a number of weeks this season and now could be No. 3.
Iowa has scored extra objectives by way of the primary 11 video games of this season (45) than it scored in all 20 video games in 2022 (40).
As is the case for any workforce ranked as extremely as Iowa has been ranked, the Hawkeyes’ success has been a results of extra than simply the van Aalsum-led scoring outburst.
Iowa has held 9 of 11 opponents to no a couple of purpose, with the exceptions being No. 1 North Carolina in additional time and then-No. 11 Ohio State.
“Iowa traditionally has all the time been so nice defensively,” stated Cellucci, a former goalkeeper at Iowa within the Nineties. “That’s sort of been our bread and butter.”
Now, Iowa has some scoring spice together with its metaphorical bread and butter.
“Having a goal-scorer like that and understanding which you can rely on some effectivity, it’s been unbelievable,” Cellucci stated.
Oct. 6 vs. No. 2 Northwestern (3 p.m., Massive Ten Community)
Oct. 13 at Indiana (2 p.m.)
Oct. 15 at No. 5 Louisville (11 a.m.)
Oct. 20 at No. 9 Maryland (4 p.m.)
Oct. 22 at No. 16 Penn State (11 a.m.)
Oct. 27 vs. No. 6 Rutgers (4 p.m., B1G+ streaming service)
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