ACC CARDS VS. BIG 10 HOOSIERS TONIGHT
(Daryl has run away from home and left a note instructing me to do her Friday article while she books passage on a steamer to Singapore. Just kidding, her Bats duties have her tied up and last night and today...so you get me, Paulie, to fill in. Any complaints should be sent to Bill The Goat, c/o Cardinal Couple, who will eat them after Timmy the Intern reads them to a fairly uninterested Cardinal Couple Lunch Room contingent.) .
For many years, ACC Field Hockey has been widely considered the "top of the mark". The best Field Hockey conference in DI NCAA and the standard for excellence. This season, at least in the eyes of the NCAA DI Field Hockey coaches, there is a changing of the guard. We find three BIG 10 schools in the top five of the early rankings (#1 Michigan, #2 Iowa and #5 Northwestern) and just two ACC schools (#3 Boston College and #4 UNC). And the mighty, seeming untouchable TarHeels are an unimpressive 2-2 on the season -- taking losses to both Michigan and Iowa in the ACC/Big 10 challenge in Iowa City.
Our Louisville Cardinals Field Hockey squad is re-knocking at the top five door at #6. The Cards were #5, won two games at Princeton against the Tigers and Penn, and then dropped a spot in the latest coaches poll. Yeah, go figure.
The Cards are 4-0 on this young season and face their first Big 10 opponent this evening in IU. A 6 p.m. match at Trager Stadium, that'll be shown on the ACC Network Extra. IU is the first of four Big 10 opponents the Cards will face this season -- and our neighbors to the north aren't having a bad, at all, start to their season with a 4-1 record.
This series is known as the "Battle of the Border" and the Cards lead the series 15-7. Louisville has won the last seven matches agains the Hoosiers. They did not play in 2019, but the Cards took a 5-0 decision in 2019.
IU and the Cards have a similar opponent this season - sort of -- in Bellarmine. Louisville scrimmaged against the Knights early in the schedule and won 10-0 before the teams practiced 7v7 and post-game, tie breaking shootouts. Bellarmine won the latter two, so I suppose you could call the final 10-2. Whatever you want to name it, it was a dominating Cardinals performance. IU hosted Bellarmine on Monday and defended the home turf with a 3-0 win over the Knights.
IU's lone loss this season was at the hands of Lafayette, up in Columbus, OH .on Sunday. .The Hoosiers took a 4-0 beating from the unranked Leopards (5 bonus points if you previously knew their nickname). I'll offer another 10 bonus points if you know where Lafayette is located with "googling" it. (Answer at the end of today's column).
One could say that IU might be the Louisville Field Hockey's squads toughest test of the season so far. I'd certainly say that you need to consider Princeton in that category, too -- the #13 ranked Tigers took the Cards to overtime.
This Cardinals squad has been proficient without all-world, graduated Meche Pastor. They hold a 15-3 scoring edge in their four wins and are doing it with a freshman goal keeper in Mila de Kuijer. The Cards do have 18 players (nine of them starters) back from that Final Four 2020 team and they certainly enjoy the home turf advantage of Trager. Louisville has won nine in a row there, going back to last season.
Looking at the top 25 in NCAA DI Field Hockey Coaches Poll, we find six Big 10 Field Hockey programs in the rankings and seven ACC schools. The top 10 of the most recent coaches poll is either ACC or Big 10 affiliated schools.
I fully expert IU to arrive in Louisville today with an "upset-minded" attitude and to try and erase the bad taste of the Lafayette loss from their system. A win over Louisville could easily propel them into the nation's top 25.
It'll be a homecoming, of sorts, for two IU players, Mary Kate Kesler is a senior midfielder who played her high school hockey at Louisville Sacred Heart High School. Meredith Lee is a freshman midfielder whp went to Louisville Assumption. Kesler has started all five games for IU, has not scored but has n assist. Lee has seen action in one game for the Hoosiers.
It should be a good battle today at Trager. Admission is free if you want to join in the fun.
Let's not forget that two other Louisville Fall Sports squads are in action today. WSOC brings in Michigan to Lynn Stadium for a 5 p.m. match. This one is also on the ACCNX, if you want to watch, or...you could head out to Lynn and view it. Remember admission is free. Our Jared Anderson will be running back and forth from the soccer and field hockey venues taking pictures and having fun. Unfortunately, I won't be atending either event -- some mobility issues have me on the sidelines.
And, in the Queen City, Louisville Volleyball faces #6 Purdue in the Xavier Tournament. Our Jeff McAdams is attending this one. If you wanna watch, FloVolleyball will be showing the match on-line. It's a "pay for" site and a month of coverage will cost you $29.95.
(Easton, PA is the location of Lafayette College)
Have a fulfilling Friday!