Soccer’s Drkulec succeeding both on and off the field

In her senior season, Hannah Drkulec has made great contributions to the Iowa soccer team while also being successful in the classroom.

Iowa+defender+Hannah+Drkulec+%2817%29+takes+a+shot+during+a+women%27s+soccer+match+between+Iowa+and+Western+Michigan+on+Thursday%2C+August+22%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Broncos%2C+2-0.+

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defender Hannah Drkulec (17) takes a shot during a women's soccer match between Iowa and Western Michigan on Thursday, August 22, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 2-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Before the season started, senior captain and defender Hannah Drkulec only had 1 goal and 3 assists in her three seasons on the Iowa soccer team. 

To say that this season has been a bit different would be an understatement. So far, Drkulec has 4 goals and 1 assist. 

In addition to her newfound offensive success, Drkulec has received many honors this season. They have included winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week two times, Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week once, and being named to TopDrawerSoccer’s National Team of the Week.

Drkulec is the third Big Ten player to receive both offensive and defensive player of the week in the same season. She credits her teammates and coaches for helping her make the big jump this season.

“I just think that playing around my teammates, like their confidence in me, and then the training from coaches and the coaches’ confidence in me has really helped me step into the new shoes I’m filling this year,” Drkulec said. “So, I feel like that has given me the boost to me an offensive-defender.”

Head coach Dave DiIanni said that Drkulec has matured since her freshman year both mentally and physically and now has a sense of urgency in her senior season. 

“She’s always had the physical tools,” DiIanni said. “She’s a great athlete. She’s so competitive and hard in the tackle and great in the air, but her soccer IQ is now starting to catch up.”

Drkulec was voted one of the team’s two captains this season. That leadership role has changed Drkulec’s perspective on the game.

“I think it’s kind of let me look at the whole team as more of a whole than opposed to my position or just looking at the back line,” Drkulec said. “So, it’s allowed me to open my eyes and pay attention to who needs help on the field and being able to be a big communicator from the outside.”

DiIanni said that Drkulec is a player that leads by example, who can hold her teammates accountable when things are not going well but can also be encouraging by emotionally picking them up. That contributes to the winning culture the program has built.

Besides being a successful player, Drkulec also makes great strides in the classroom. The biomedical engineering major was named to the Second-team Google Cloud Academic Team in 2018, as well as to the Dean’s List and President’s List in the fall and spring semesters of the last school year.

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“Honestly, being a student-athlete has made me a better student because it’s made me improve my time management skills and my organization so much,” Drkulec said. “I know when things are coming like weeks in advance, and I’m able to prepare for everything.”

Her teammate, redshirt senior forward Kaleigh Haus who also is majoring in biomedical engineering, works together with Drkulec on class projects almost every day. 

“We don’t miss class,” Haus said. “We don’t miss an assignment. We just finish everything. Even if we don’t want to do it, we know it’s going to help us in some shape or form.”

Currently, Drkulec is applying to medical schools in Canada, her home country. The Windsor, Ontario, native shares a special connection with DiIanni, who is also from Ontario. 

“We make jokes that Canada has better chocolate and Tim Horton’s,” Dilanni said.

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