Cary brings intensity, consistency to Iowa soccer

The freshman defender has started all 18 games this season and plays at an impressively consistent level.

Iowa+defender+Samantha+Cary+tries+to+keep+the+ball+in+play+during+Iowa%27s+match+against+Illinois+State+on+Sunday%2C+September+1%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Red+Birds+4-3.
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Cary brings intensity, consistency to Iowa soccer

Iowa defender Samantha Cary tries to keep the ball in play during Iowa's match against Illinois State on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Red Birds 4-3.

Iowa defender Samantha Cary tries to keep the ball in play during Iowa's match against Illinois State on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Red Birds 4-3.

Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa defender Samantha Cary tries to keep the ball in play during Iowa's match against Illinois State on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Red Birds 4-3.

Megan Nagorzanski

Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa defender Samantha Cary tries to keep the ball in play during Iowa's match against Illinois State on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Red Birds 4-3.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

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Eighteen games, eighteen starts — despite only being a freshman, Iowa soccer’s Samantha Cary is already making an impact for the Hawkeyes.

As a defender, Cary has not racked up many stats, as she only has one goal and three assists. But that doesn’t mean her presence on the field isn’t known.

“Honestly, it’s incredible what she does,” senior captain and defender Hannah Drkulec said. “As a freshman, it’s so hard to be dialed in and be able to be consistent she has been, and I know that bringing just that your first year is really difficult, so it’s really impressive.”

Cary said that this type of work couldn’t be done just by herself.

“I’ve been having a successful season because of everyone around me,” Cary said. “Like this team knows how to push each other. I was beyond [blessed] with coming in here in January. So, this is my 10th month being here, but everyone just pushes each other in practice. Our environment, our coaches, our other staff in our program — everyone pushes each other, everyone wants to do their best, and we all have the same goals for this program.”

Cary came into the program during the spring semester last year. Getting the head start has accelerated Cary’s growth with the help of her teammates and coaches.

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“It helped me so much,” Cary said. “Coming in a semester early, I got to understand the fast pace of college soccer, like the high physical intensity, but also I got to be around the girls, get used to college itself. That way, coming into the chaos of the fall season, I was a little bit more calm, a little bit more collective, and I knew what I was getting myself into, and I knew I could do it.”

Academically, Cary has also gotten off to a great start, as she was named to the Dean’s List during the spring semester. At Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri, she ranked first in her class and was an Associated Press National Scholar in 2018.

The comfort both on the field and in the classroom has allowed Cary to contribute for Iowa immediately.

“She’s a very good one-on-one defender,” head coach David DiIanni said. “Naturally left footed, obviously, and you always know she’s going to be a warrior on the field. She’s going to give it everything she can to compete and be combative, and she has really helped us solidify the left side of the field.”

Cary’s style of play has even had an impact on other players, even though she is just a freshman.

“She is strong in the tackle,” DiIanni said. “When people, if they don’t go in hard, they end up on the ground and she has made other people better because of that and I really appreciate that.”

Even with this great play, Cary’s intensity has driven her, always wanting to improve.

“She’s always out here when others are out here getting here getter better ahead of time or doing extra work to put herself over the top,” Drkulec said.

Cary has plenty of time remaining in the Black and Gold. It is likely that she will only continue to improve, and if things go how Cary envisions, so will the program.

“For the rest of my career I want to make Iowa a staple in the Big Ten,” she said.

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