Predicting Fall Records Part Three: Field Hockey
With two days remaining until the first UofL women's sporting event for the Fall 2020, we come to the third chapter of looking at fall sports and predicting their record.
Field hockey is the last of the three major women's fall sports to start their schedule. Their first game is not until the very end of September, with a two-day double header beginning Sept. 26.
Of the three fall sports, field hockey appears to have the toughest schedule. When it comes to field hockey, the ACC is THE conference to look to, with all seven teams being ACC contenders and national championship contenders every year.
As we discussed last week on the Cardinal Couple YouTube-Skype-SoundCloud-Anchor Hour Podcast, the ACC is only counting the opening game for conference standings, when they play an opponent twice, although teams will play a few more than the six-game schedule. Welcome to 2020...
The Cards kick off the season by hosting Duke for a two-game series on Sept. 26 and 27. The Blue Devils have reached the Final Four six times since 2003. Their 1-5 conference record last year is their worst record since before Louisville joined the ACC. Pam Bustin, who used to coach Louisville before Justine Sowry, has had Duke as a national powerhouse every year. This is a tough match-up for the Cards that I see them going 1-1-in, with Duke taking the first game.
North Carolina visits Louisville on Oct. 2. Arguably the best program in NCAA field hockey history, the Tar Heels have four national championships in the last 13 years. You can add five national runner-up finishes and three Final Four (non-championship game) appearances in that span. North Carolina is incredible and is a favorite for a three-peat national title and the Cards will be one of the victims along the way.
The final home game is on Oct. 4 in a match-up with Boston College. The Cards upset the Eagles in Chestnut Hill 3-2 during the regular season, but faltered in a sudden death shootout in the Elite Eight. Boston College is no walk in the park, but I see the Cards finding a way to grind out a victory on Senior Day to improve to 2-2.
The road portion of the schedule begins with a stop in Winston-Salem for a two-game series against Wake Forest on Oct. 9 and 11. The Demon Deacons were voted to finish last in the conference this year. This is a team the Cards blanked 3-0 last year, but fell to twice the previous year. Playing on the road in the ACC is tough but I see the Cards going 1-1 while getting the win in the first game.
Virginia is next on the list for the road trip, with games on Oct. 23 and 24. The Wahoos finished second in the conference last year, advanced to the Final Four, and are preseason number two in the conference. This is a team that has averaged about 2.5 losses at home per season over the last decade. Like the Cards, a normal home schedule typically features 9-12 home games. UofL will not be able to break through at Virginia, falling in both games to drop to 3-5.
Syracuse is the final stop on the schedule the day before Halloween. The Orange are typically a middle of the pack or lower level team when it comes to the ACC. Louisville fell to the Orange in overtime on Senior Day last year before winning in regulation to open the conference tournament. Louisville won the three previous match-ups, with two of them going into double overtime. This is typically an exciting game, but I think the Cards will come out on top.
If my math is correct, UofL will finish the season 4-5 by my prediction. That also should have the Cards finishing 3-3 in conference play, which is on par for them.
So... with a tough schedule ahead here are some of my bold predictions:
-Madison Walsh will outscore Mercedes Pastor in goals scored. With Bethany Russ graduated, the biggest offensive threat is Mechi, who scored nine goals last year. The senior will draw heavy defensive attention. Walsh finished last year with eight goals, but has flown slightly under the radar, giving her a good advantage.
-The Cards will average 1.25 goals per game. This is a team that averaged 2.23 goals per game a year ago, but they don't have the luxury of dropping 3-4 goals against non-conference opponents. They scored 10 goals in six regular season games last year, an average of 1.67 goals per game. Carter Ayars and Bethany Russ, two of the top four scorers from last year are gone and the ACC is going to be tough.
-The sophomore class will be the most impressive class for field hockey this year. The senior class is stacked so this is an ultra-bold prediction. But look at some of the members of the sophomore class: Sam Minrath, Margot Lawn, and Julie Kouijzer, among others. Only two players make up the junior class so much of the responsibility falls onto younger players. This season will be a make or break year depending what the sophomore class does. Coach Sowry is one tough cookie and she has high expectations and demands of them. By them stepping up they will impress all of us.
How do you think field hockey will fare this season? Are the bold predictions completely insane?
We still have some time before we find out, but it is coming quick.
No, Paulie is not giving out piggyback rides. He wouldn't make it too far if he tried. However, I was in the same stadium as he was Saturday evening.
First of all, wear the mask. The rules don't state that you can take them off altogether or pull them below your chin once in your seat. UofL can quickly pull fans from all sporting events if they think the fans are responsible enough to handle themselves. I'm sure Worldwide would love to keep up his volleyball tickets and Case his soccer tickets, but if fans cannot handle themselves at football then UofL has no problem putting their foot down on the other fall sports.
I, too, had some unpleasant experiences with WKU fans. Mine involved four very drunk frat boys a couple rows behind me. Their antics featured no masks and a 10-word vocabulary made up primarily of words I cannot repeat here.
Fans are typically better at women's sporting events with a few exceptions.
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!