By Justin Stephenson
Coming off of what Coach Justine Sowry describes as, “One of the best seasons we’ve ever had.” The fourteenth
ranked U of L Cardinals field hockey team finished the season with a 15-5 record, 6-1 in the Big East. Although
finishing with a share of the regular season Big East title the Cardinals were left out of the NCAA Tournament,
their season ending in 2-0 loss to Old Dominion in the Big East Tournament.
“We were able to accomplish a lot this year,” Sowry ruminated. “We have to remember all the great things as
Indeed, in our casual zodiac it was the Year of the Cardinal; a year of made memories. And the Field Hockey
team proves to be no exception.
They fought back through five overtime wins this season as well as beating three ranked teams this season;
number 20 Old Dominion, number 12 Northwestern and number 17 Temple. This year’s record of 15 wins is the
most for the Field Hockey program in over a decade.
Needless to say, though, it is the people that make the memories, and throughout the season, no one brought
up more nostalgia than departing senior Erin Schneitmiller. From her incredible game winning overtime goal
versus Old Dominion, one Coach Sowry calls, “One of the greatest goals I have ever seen.” To her dagger in double
overtime against a raucous Rutgers backfield, her contributions to the field hockey program cannot be understated.
“She came to the University as a walk-on and she ended up being the captain of this program. I’m so incredibly
proud of what she’s been able to accomplish on the field and off the field. She was really able to lead by example but
also set the tone for this program going to the ACC,” Sowry said.
Starting in every game this season, Schneidtmiller may not have had the offensive opus she had last year,
although her 21 points was still good for third best on the team, but the underlying stats tell a story of leadership
that goes beyond points scored. Her .677 or 68 % shot on goal percentage paces the team for top five in accuracy.
Her three game winners this season tell a story of reliability and dependability that adds to the eternal legacy of U of
Another face in the crowd is that of the gritty goalkeeper, red-shirt sophomore Sydney King.
“This was her first year actually playing after Erin Conrad graduated last year,” Sowry said.
Recalling the panic at the start of the season with a sophomore who had never played coming in for a veteran
senior, folks in card nation were dotting the crimson beads of sweat from their fevered brows. Despite the worry
and despite having to prove herself every step of the way, King had an even better season statistically than Erin
Conrad. Posting a higher save percentage of .761 as opposed to Conrad’s .741. She also had a better goal average of
1.43 goals per game as compared to Conrad’s 1.81. King not only filled the shoes of the departed super senior, but
she might very well need new ones come next season.
“She was outstanding for us, technically she’s very, very sound. She has the ability to make the unbelievable save;
which was highlighted in each of our four overtime games,” Sowry recalls.
Her career high 10 saves, against then number 12 Northwestern, as well as her knack for sniffing out the penalty
corner will ensure her status as defensive stalwart for years to come.
Another femme fatale on the field was freshman forward Shannon Sloss.
“She got rookie of the year at the Big East banquet. She was able to generate a lot of offense for us. She takes
great pride in her athleticism and strives to always be the very best player she can be,” Sowry said.
After posting a 22 point season as a freshman which was second best on the team, and rating top three
statistically in shots on goal percentage as well as shot percentage, the five-foot-four freshman might not be the
most intimidating, but she packs a mighty punch. In conference play she was able to step up her game. Shooting 40
percent better during the conference season than during non-conference games when she shot at 34.5 percent. She
also matched her game-winning shots from the non-conference season to the conference season.
And who could forget the outstanding lift provided by the foreign freshman phenom with the off-the-bench
bravado: forward Jennifer Pels. Starting no games this season, she came off the bench to provide a team high four
game winning shots.
“It took her a little while to get use to the culture change from Holland to over here; the amount of fitness and
conditioning that we do over here as compared to over there,” Coach Sowry explained. “She embraced the culture
here in the U.S; of division one athletics. She came up very big when it mattered, I’m expecting nothing but great
things from her in the years to come.”
It is important to mention the quietly deceptive Alyysa Voelmle. Although “lacking some vocal leadership,” as
Coach Sowry explained, she leads by example.
The junior fullback led the team in points this season with 27 and scored a team high 11 goals.
“She is a gamer, and one of the most competitive people on the team, She hates to lose. She is a driving force in
our backfield and is incredibly consistent, especially when it comes to execution from our set pieces. She has an
incredible ability to find the danger shot for every goal,” Sowry said.
So what of this Cardinal team, that says farewell to the fond memories of the Big East and goes on to find
greener and more commercially successful pastures in the burgeoning ACC?
“The ACC is the best field hockey conference in the country. All seven teams made the tournament even with a
worse record than what we had, and top to bottom they’re nearly all ranked. Number one Maryland, number two
Syracuse, number three UNC, number five Duke, number seven Virginia. We will have to work harder on every
aspect of our game, on and off the field and from a recruiting standpoint,” Sowry said.
According to the NFHCA poll conducted this season, Louisville would actually be coming in near the bottom
half of the ACC in field hockey next season, even being ranked 15 in the nation this year.
“We’re excited about the challenge. It’s going to be tough but that’s what we do everyday, we prepare to be
champions and nothing that we do on a day to day to level is going change,” Sowry said. “Because we are always
going to prepare to be a champion.”