By Alan Branch–
On Nov. 14, the U of L field hockey team’s dreams for a national championship were thwarted in the first round of the NCAA tournament by an undefeated Connecticut team, 3-0. U of L finished their season with an overall record of 13-7, including a 1-5 record during ACC conference play.
The 2015 season was accompanied with ups and downs, but there were plenty of things the Cards can be proud of after finishing as the eleventh-ranked team in the country. Over half of the Cards’ wins were shutouts (9), which led the ACC. They also achieved perfection against non-conference opponents with a 12-0 record. The Cards ended the regular season on a six-game win streak, while earning as high as eighth-ranked in the country.
Although when another season passes, the departure of yet another senior class follows. The 2015 senior class included four key players that were an integral part of the Cards success over the past four years: Victoria Stratton, Elisa Garcia, Megan Anstotz and Katharine-Gwynne Wood. After the game against UConn, head coach Justine Sowry spoke highly of the team’s overall effort this season and her special group of seniors:
“I’m incredibly proud of our team and the effort they put in this year. I want to thank our four wonderful seniors, Victoria Stratton, Elisa Garcia, Megan Anstotz and Katharine-Gwynne Wood for what they’ve given to this program over four years. We wanted to go one better this year with that group of four, but unfortunately we fell short. But I’m very proud of the group,” said Sowry.
The four seniors achieved a great deal of success for the program, with a combined win total of 55. Even more impressive was their stout 40-7 record at home which included an undefeated 10-0 record at home in 2013. The transition to the ACC was positively pushed forward by this group of girls. They compiled an impressive list of top 20 rankings, including 13 weeks among the top 10. Their biggest achievement came against North Carolina in 2014, where they helped the team earned their first ACC victory in the program’s history as well as the first win over a No. 1 ranked team.
“Importantly to this group is their leadership. They’ve been great mentors to a very young team with seven freshmen. I’m very proud of them, because we’ve had a very successful year to date and I owe a lot to the senior class for being good leaders and mentors,” say Sowry.
A voice of positivity from the coach speaks volumes about how poised the underclassmen will be as they look to fill the void these seniors will inevitably leave behind. On the offensive side, sophomore Nicole Woods led the team with eight goals and 22 points.
Beside her was reserved sophomore Stephanie Byrne who led the team in shot and shot-on-goal percentage as well as game-winning shots made with three. The Cards’ tight, and often times, impenetrable defense was enforced by freshman goal keeper Ayeisha McFerran who led the ACC with nine total shutouts at her position.
The future certainly looks bright for the Cards, which surely will encourage the players’ to keep their heads high after a noteworthy season. Most importantly, this will provide them with motivation during the offseason in preparation for the 2016 season.