By Matt Bradshaw–
After a 8-8-2 season last year in an uncompromising ACC conference, the women’s soccer team is looking to make a name for themselves this fall.
“We’re looking to build off of the momentum we started last year,” coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes said. “We had a great win over then no. 1 ranked North Carolina and tied Duke who ultimately went to the Final Four. We have our word cut out for us with our conference schedule.”
The Cardinals have 27 players on their roster for this season. Twelve are returning from last year, 11 are incoming freshman and four are transfers. This gives the Cards a good amount of experience returning to the ACC along with fresh talent to add to the mix. One of these talents is senior Mhairi Fyfe, who is transferring from Campbellsville University and left as their all-time leading scorer.
Senior goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin is one of the five transfers on Louisville’s team. After playing last season with the Cardinals, Bucklin knows the transition and thinks the four newcomers have what it takes.
“All four transfers are upperclassmen and have a lot of experience in the game. I’m happy they’re here and I’m looking forward to playing with them. They will make a big impact for us this season,” Bucklin said.
Junior defender Inger Katrine Bjerke logged the most minutes on the team last season. During media day, she shared the team’s goals this season.
“We have three big goals we would like to accomplish: beat Kentucky at Lynn Stadium, make the ACC tournament and make the NCAA tournament,” Bjerke said.
The last two goals won’t be an easy task for the Cardinals. If U of L is able to make a run in the conference tournament, it’ll be hard to keep them out of the NCAAs.
“It’s harder to win an ACC championship than a NCAA tournament,” Ferguson-Dayes said.
With the competition in the ACC, Ferguson-Dayes is speaking the truth. Of the 14 teams in the ACC, seven are ranked in the top 20. No. 1 Florida State, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Virginia are the highest ranking members.
Even though U of L is facing a nightmare of a schedule and were picked tenth ACC preseason rankings, the Cardinals don’t plan on letting outsiders hold them back. U of L improved in their second season in the ACC after a 7-9-3 record in their inaugural season. Louisville has shown they can hang around with top competition over the past two years.
Last season against the top four ranked ACC members, U of L fell by a total score of 5-3. This included shutting out Duke and holding both UNC and UVA to one goal a piece. Offense was a woe last season for the Cards and it wasn’t hard to hide. Louisville returns four players who tied for the most goals scored on the team with two. For comparison, last season Nyoski Simmons of Mississippi Valley State netted 26 goals and led the nation.
Despite the troubles faced last year, Ferguson-Dayes believes the newcomers can really help the team overcome.
“This new group we have has increased our athleticism, increased our talent and frankly, I just love being around them. I like coaching them, they’re eager to learn and they want to watch video. This is a great group, I’m excited for the future of Louisville soccer,” Ferguson-Dayes said.
The regular season-opener is slated on Aug. 21 against Indiana State.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal