Cards claw out 3-2 victory over top ranked UNC, field hockey improves to 6-1

By on September 21, 2014

By Justin Stephenson–

In the world of sports, there are peasants and kings; those who sit atop the rankings and those who watch with eager eyes; who take their dejection and subvert it into motivation for a historic uprising. Today, indeed, the peasant has bested the mighty king.

When number one ranked North Carolina marched into Trager Stadium on Saturday they were atop the Field Hockey kingdom. 14 ranked Louisville’s 3-2 victory over them that day suggests among many things that these Cards are ready to fight for the crown sooner than anyone expected.

“First of all, to play against UNC; such a legendary program and a legendary coach in Karen Shellton. I just felt blessed to be able to play against UNC.” Head Coach Justine Sowry said. UNC field hockey has won six national championships in school history.

After squandering a 2-0 first half lead, many U of L fans prayed for deliverance. It came in the form of senior Becca Maddock’s game winning goal with just under five minutes left.

“The mentality I came in with was either score or die or win or die. I didn’t want to let up at all. At that moment (of the corner kick) we had the momentum, and at that point I wanted to get the goal. There was really nothing stopping me,” Maddock recalled.

In the first half, before the prayers and confessionals; the game was all U of L; drawing on the momentum amassed from good road wins, U of L erupted out of the gates shooting 100 percent in the first half. Senior defender Mallory Mason scored off a rebound at the 18-minute mark. Later, with the half coming to a close, Mason flicked one in from the left post to head into the half with a 2-0 lead. Mason scored courtesy of a lovely dime from junior midfielder Elisa Garcia, who leads the team in assists this season with five.

“This week we really worked on our system and on defensive corners and didn’t really work on attack corners. Mallory worked all week on a corner that I wasn’t going to give her; I actually wanted to give it to someone else, but that just goes to show our wonderful senior leadership; our penalty corner unit has been outstanding,” Coach Sowry explained.

As the second half started the game had taken on a new tone. This perennial king was not to be dethroned so easily, as UNC standout Charlotte Craddock tried to maintain the monarchy with two unassisted quick strikes in the opening minute, sending the U of L bench into frenzy.

“We lost our assignments. We had so much anxiety and so much excitement that we forgot what we were here to do. The message to anyone subbing in at that point was to stick to our game plan and really work hard for each other,” Coach Sowry recalled.

Then, following the equalizer by Maddock, UNC pulled an unprecedented move in the last five minutes by taking its goalkeeper out for the first time this season in an attempt to add extra offense in the final minutes, trusting their solid back and forward line to collectively defend as a team.

“I was so focused on my assignment, I didn’t even notice until a bout 2 or 3 minutes after it happened; I was so worried about setting up the defense,” senior goalkeeper Sydney King recalls.

When asked what she would do to celebrate such a historic win; Becca Maddock retorted, “I’m gonna definitely sleep.”

And as for the rest of the team?

“We all have to move on; I told the players to enjoy this moment because its not often that you beat the number one team in the country, but at the same time we have to be smart and come back against Ohio State on Tuesday afternoon. This will mean nothing if we don’t take care of that Tuesday game; enjoy it now but tomorrow morning, we’re back to business.”

Photos by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal 

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