They're out of the gate
Through various exhibition match-ups and a regular season game for women's soccer, we've had a chance to see all of the Louisville women's fall teams in action already. It's not enough to be able to fully analyze each team, but it's been enough of a glimpse to help us generate some thoughts.
This weekend was an opportune moment to see women's soccer, volleyball, and women's soccer (and men's soccer, but that's not a sport we cover here) in action. Women's soccer also had a preseason outing the week prior.
Below is my personal "first impression" of the fall teams.
Volleyball by far looked the best to me. The Red and Black Scrimmage isn't always the best indicator of how good the VolleyCards are...it being a more relaxed event... as teammates compete against each other, but wow, this team is good
Replacing Anna Stevenson and Tori Dilfer was a tall task for Coach DBK. She seemed to go the Brad Pitt "Moneyball" route instead of directly replacing that duo. Cara Cresse and PK appear to be the pair that will compete for the most playing time at middle blocker, but freshman Hannah Sherman made her presence known. Raquel Lazaro stood out as the frontrunner for the setter position, and she's arguably the quickest and most agile player on the court, but Elle Glock and Paige Morningstar also both are in starting setter shape with Glock and Morningstar each having four years of eligibility remaining.
Louisville took the Anna DeBeer back row hitting and expanded it to feature Claire Chaussee and Aiko Jones. So, not only are opponents dealing with quick and powerful outside hitters, they also have to worry about the back row attack.
Defensively, having Elena Scott retain the libero position going into her second year and having experienced defensive specialists in Alexa Hendricks and Ayden Bartlett just makes the veteran crew ready to take on anything thrown, er hit, at them.
Women's soccer has given me more to see already and my attention immediately goes to the defensive line. Sarah Hernandez and Ravin Alexander have been around for quite some time now and have become lockdown defenders. Anouk Denton has moved into a defensive fullback position and has been brilliant as a sophomore. Freshman Karsyn Cherry has stepped into the centerback role alongside Hernandez smoothly and has already proven herself capable to step up and score.
Maisie Whitsett transitioned back to forward, a position she originally started her Louisville career as, and has already shown she can almost score at will. She has plenty of speed alongside her on the front lines spread amongst a few new faces.
The midfield mostly consists of returnees who have another year under their belts with passing and forward vision being noticeable improvements.
The goalkeeper position is still in question as Olivia Pratapas isn't 100% healthy yet. That leaves Alyssa Zalac and Erynn Floyd competing for the starting spot right now. By my count, neither have seen a shot on goal yet or have had much action, so I can't really put one ahead of the other at this time. This could be a position battle up through the start of conference play.
Rain and lighting delays interfered with the Cards being able to build much momentum Sunday so I don't want to overanalyze what I saw. Sowry played 21 players, too.
Bellarmine's goalkeeper put on a dazzling performance, which can skew how the offense truly looked in the preseason exhibition. The offense doesn't concern me with returners Katie Schneider, Aimee Plumb, and Mattie Tabor all back. Add in Emilia Kaczmarczyk, Minna Tremonti, and Mia Duchars to that mix and the offense has potential to be one of the top in the country. The second grouping of three are midfielders, but play more of an offensive midfielder role.
India Reed and Sofia Pendolino will be the veterans leading a defensive group that features plenty of new faces. Both returners have proven themselves to be strong one-on-one defenders. Back defender Julie Kouijzer was present Sunday, but did not dress due to unspecified reasons. I'm assuming she's good to go for the season and she'll strengthen the defense more.
Not much is known about either goalkeeper. Sasha Elliott and Logan Jancerak are both new to Louisville and both saw playing time against Bellarmine. I'll need to see both in action more to get a better feel for the goalkeeper situation.
Being a team with so many new faces that are expected to make an immediate impact on the team can get tricky. This team hasn't had time to fully gel yet. Passing was off and communication wasn't there. Both of those should improve greatly the more the players spend on the field together.
Feel Old Yet?
Remember the the 1993 movie "Dazed and Confused"? There's a line "I get older, they stay the same age". In a less weird manner than the movie context, looking at the rosters for this fall might make you feel old.
After going through the rosters for the fall teams I found ONE player born prior to 2000. Thank you, Aiko Jones, for not making us 90s babies a thing of the past. The incoming freshmen class has players born as recent as 2004.
This is one of the first "I feel old" moments I've had besides hip and knee pain. I guess I can only get older from here... oy vey...
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!