By Sammie Hill–
With four years of collegiate experience under her belt, red shirt senior goalkeeper Erin Conrad possesses knowledge and understanding of the game that shapes her into a valuable leader for the University of Louisville field hockey team.
Sporting the number 90, Conrad stands at 5 feet 6 inches tall and went to Elmer L. Meyers Junior/Senior High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In addition to field hockey, she competed in swimming and soccer throughout her high school career.
Conrad started for the field hockey team throughout all four years of high school. She was selected as an All-State Honorable Mention in 2004; she went on to be named to the All-State second team for the next three years. Exemplifying the caliber of her play, Conrad competed in the Junior Olympics from 2004-2006, earning a gold medal in 2005 and a silver medal in 2006.
Conrad came to the University of Louisville in 2008, where she was redshirted her first year. Since then, the business management major has made a dramatic impact on the U of L field hockey team. Her sophomore season, she earned five shutouts and a spot on the All-Big East second team.
In 2010, Conrad was selected as a member of the USA Under 21 National Team. She expressed excitement upon learning of this honor, viewing it as a chance to improve her field hockey ability.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” said Conrad after learning of her selection. “I’ve worked really hard, and it is an honor to be selected. I look forward to gaining international hockey experience.”
Pam Bustin, head coach of Louisville field hockey at the time, revealed how Conrad’s experience with the National Team could benefit the team as a whole.
“Erin has high aspirations for herself within the field hockey world. She understands that challenging herself will in turn benefit our Cardinal program,” Bustin said.
The experience with the U21 Team paid off. The following year, as a junior, Conrad earned her career-high 11 saves in a game against Syracuse, in which Louisville lost 2-1 in overtime. She secured 6 shutouts, which stood as the third highest in the Big East. Once again, Conrad was a part of the All-Big East second team. She improved her goals-against average from 1.76 as a sophomore to 1.51 as a junior. This average is ranked third in the Big East and 11th in the nation. Additionally, she was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week on two separate occasions.
This season, with a year of eligibility remaining, Conrad decided to return to the U of L field hockey team.
“Erin decided to return because she knew she could help this team regardless of winning a championship or not,” head coach Justine Sowry said. “This speaks volumes for how far she has grown as a person and a leader for our program.”
Sowry notes that throughout the past four years, Conrad has built upon her success in high school and continued to improve as a player and a leader.
“Erin has matured and continues to lead a young group of players in front of her through… preparation, practice and games. Her performances so far have reflected on her mental toughness and competitive pride that is instilled in her.”
This season, Conrad and the rest of the U of L field hockey team are already achieving success. In a preseason scrimmage against Indiana University, in which the Cardinals trumped the Hoosiers 3-0, Conrad defended a shutout for Louisville.
“Erin Conrad had a great performance,” said Sowry following the preseason match.
Conrad also shined in Louisville’s recent matchup against Ball State, where the Cardinals won in a 5-0 shutout.
Conrad excels not only on the field, but also in the classroom, demonstrated by the fact that she has been named to the athletic director’s honor roll for the past 3 years.
Erin Conrad and the University of Louisville field hockey team will face off against Syracuse University on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 12 p.m. in Syracuse, New York.
Photos: Val Serdino/The Louisville Cardinal