We take a week off from "Friday's with Daryl" as Daryl is enjoying a well-deserved vacation right now. Besides being a regular writer and radio show participant, Daryl also balances several jobs that include working in the ACC Network studio on campus and running the camera crew at Louisville Bats' games. She's also one heck of a fantasy football player, which she hopes to win another title this season. She also celebrated her birthday earlier this week right about the same time Celene Funke (softball) and Shayla Scanlan (lacrosse) celebrated theirs.
Her regularly scheduled Friday report should resume next week, but for now we hope Daryl enjoys her vacation. Daryl, if you're out there celebrating by drinking I'll take a rum and coke!
Season Review: Field Hockey
We can go ahead and look at another team whose season wrapped up recently. This team had arguably the most success this season. We look no further than field hockey.
Justine Sowry's squad achieved several accomplishments in the dual season. They reached the #2 ranking, which is the highest in school history and they advanced to the program's first ever Final Four and were one lucky shot away from going to the championship. Personally, I think the Cards should get credit for a #1 ranking after their upset against North Carolina back in the fall, but there were no polls for the fall season.
Louisville finished the season with a 14-6 record and officially had a 3-3 conference record. They went 11-5 against ACC schools, but not all were considered conference games.
The fall season started out hot with back-to-back wins against Duke, outscoring the Blue Devils 6-1 in those two matches. It was followed by a 3-1 upset against North Carolina and capped off with a 2-1 revenge win against Boston College. The Cards would go on to win three more before falling to Syracuse by one goal in the fall regular season finale. The Cards cruised by Virginia in the ACC semifinals before falling to North Carolina in the conference title game.
They opened the spring season against UNC, which turned into a loss too. They would go on to win the next three matches by a combined score of 9-2 before trading off on wins and losses the rest of the regular season.
Louisville earned the 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament and received a first round bye. In the NCAA Quarterfinals the Cards topped UConn 1-0, relying on a goal in the first quarter.
2-seed Michigan squared up against Louisville in the NCAA Semifinals and it was a battle. After a scoreless first half, the Wolverines got on the board in the third quarter. We saw all sorts of different colored cards get thrown at players from both teams in the second half (did you know there was a 10-minute penalty?!) before Louisville capitalized on a corner with 1:18 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. The two foes played a pair of empty sudden victory overtime periods and proceeded to a shootout. Even the normal five-person shootout wasn't enough as it was not until a sixth person that Michigan rushed the field as they advanced to the national championship.
Coach Sowry mentioned the most difficult part for her team was adjusting to the roster changes between the fall and spring seasons. Quite a few players retired after the fall as their education and life opportunities took them elsewhere and a player or two transferred out of the program.
Louisville outscored opponents 47-27 on the year and even posted three five-goal performances. They were shutout only twice with both of those being on the road against ranked ACC opponents. The 2.35 goals per game was quite a feat and ranked 15th in the country while the 1.35 goals allowed per game was a compliment to a stellar defense and goalkeeping situation.
Mercedes "Mechi" Pastor proved to everyone once again why she should be in the running for the best player in collegiate field hockey. The senior, who was not recognized on Senior Day (potential foreshadowing for next season perhaps?), scored 13 goals and added six assists for an impressive 32 points. Players are credited two points per goal and one point per assist.
Aimee Plumb and Katie Schneider each scored six goals while three more scored four. A total of 11 players recorded a goal and 14 recorded an assist.
In the cage, Hollyn Barr took the fall duties and Sam Minrath took over the duties in the spring. Barr allowed 13 goals over 10 games while Minrath surrendered 11 goals over 11 games.
Our goalkeepers had plenty of support in the backfield. Meghan Schneider was a force to be reckoned in the back and was often the last line of defense before opponents came face-to-face with the keepers. She had plenty of help as Alli Bitting remained rock solid in the back and India Reed made a name for herself on defense.
Like lacrosse, field hockey plays in the undisputed top conference in the country. Having to face a team like North Carolina three times in 20 games is a difficult task. An eye-popping stat is that 19 of the 20 total games the Cards played were against ranked opponents with Ball State being the odd one out. Nine of the games were against teams in the top 10, where they went 5-4. Three of those four losses came against the #1 and #2 teams.
Corners and set pieces seemed to be the toughest issue for Louisville this year as they had 133 penalty corners and converted on less than 15% of them. Get that percentage up to at least 25% and the Cards could have added another four wins this year.
The squad has plenty of talent returning in players like Sam Minrath, Charlie van Oirschot, Aimee Plumb, Emilia Kaczmarczyk, and India Reed. We hope to see some of the seniors return but have received no confirmation on any yet.
We also want to wish Lauren Hartlage, who starts the first day of the three-day NCAA Championships. We know she will represent UofL well and will provide updates after each day. She will tee off on the par-72 course at 8:13 a.m., MT (10:13 a.m. ET). Want to see her progress? Go to golfstat.com
Happy Friday and Go Cards!