By Jordan Shim–
Women’s soccer started last season at 6-2-1, cracking the top 25. The Cards then succumbed to the ACC, arguably the strongest conference in the country. Adding a year of experience of playing tough and competitive soccer will go a long way for the Cards to achieve their goal for this season.
“We have two goals for this season: Making the ACC and the NCAA tournament,” junior defender Gabrielle Vincent said. “I feel we are perfectly capable of doing that. We’re focused, and I’m excited for what the season has for us.”
Losing only one starter, cohesion will not be an issue. The team gets an injection of serious talent to a solid starting 11 with eight incoming freshmen.
“There’s a lot of attacking players coming in,” Vincent said. “It’ll be good for us because we’re known to be a defensive team. The newcomers will help put more goals on the scoresheet, which will ultimately lead to more wins.”
The schedule for this season shapes up similarly to last season. Non-conference games at the start are very winnable and a great way for the Cards to build confidence heading to the conference schedule gauntlet on the back end.
Five of the 10 conference games are against ranked teams. The Cards will endure a stretch playing four ranked schools in five games.
Playing well on the road also will be pivotal. One road win like last season will not suffice against a stacked away schedule.
Boston College, who gave the Cards a big scare at home last year, will be their first test on Sept. 17, followed by No. 13 Clemson on Oct. 5 and No. 11 Virginia on Oct. 8. No. 6 North Carolina on Oct. 22 will close the ranked schedule until the ACC tournament.
The highlight of the schedule will be the Cards hosting No. 12 Duke on Sept. 29. The Blue Devils bombarded goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin with 31 shots, but the defense held firm to secure a point in Durham, N. C. How this team will deal with the slew of top attacking talent from Duke will be a good gauge to how far the Cards can go.
“We broke the top 25, so we know it’s possible,” senior defender and captain Inger Katrine Bjerke said. “Now we want to stay there all season. We had an unfortunate back end of the season, so we want to turn it around and finish strong.”
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @tlcjordanshim.
Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal