By Matt Bradshaw —
Field hockey began preseason play this past Saturday with its annual Alumnae Game at Trager Stadium. The student athletes defeated former letterwinners 8-1 in a fun and competitive matchup.
“It’s always fantastic to have them back on campus,” head coach Justine Sowry said. “We always teach our current student athletes to honor the past, so to have them back is pretty neat.”
Redshirt freshman Elizabeth Allgeier led all scorers with three goals. Seniors Katie Walsh and Taylor Stone both registered two goals with sophomore Madison Walsh adding the final goal.
The Cardinals kept the Alumnae scoreless until midway through the second half. With a penalty corner shot, the former letterwinners scored their only goal for the day.
“The recent grads actually gave us a pretty good game,” Sowry said. “Which they needed to, because our team right now plays pretty fast hockey. It’s changed a lot.”
Expectations for the current squad are high after the success of recent years. In 2017, field hockey finished with a 14-8 overall record and reached its fourth straight and seventh overall NCAA appearance. The highlight of the season occurred during the ACC Tournament, when Louisville won their first ever conference tournament game.
No. 10 Louisville upset No. 2 Duke in a 3-2 shootout to advance to the ACC Championship game. No. 5 North Carolina edged the Cardinals 1-0 in the finals for the ACC Title.
Fast forward to 2018 and Louisville is picked to finished third in the ACC, according to a vote of the league’s seven head coaches. Defending Champion North Carolina is the preseason favorite.
Louisville return 12 letterwinners and six starters from last season. Three players are not returning after their graduations this past year: Abby Grimes, Marigrace Ragsdale and Nicole woods.
The trio completed their careers as the only class in program history to earn four consecutive NCAA appearances. They compiled a 33-9 record at Trager Stadium, helped the team reach Louisville’s first ACC Championship game appearance and led the transition into the conference.
Leading the team this time around are seniors Ayeisha McFerran and Stone. The pair were named to the Preseason All-ACC Team.
This is McFerran’s third appearance on the Preseason Team. The Larne, Northern Ireland native is a three-time All-American, All-West Region and All-ACC selection. Last season, she proved herself one of the nation’s top goalkeepers with a career-high 18 saves and amazing shootout performance to hold off Duke in the ACC semifinals.
The senior was also recently named Goalkeeper of the Tournament after helping Ireland to a silver medal in the 2018 World Cup.
Stone returns from a career-best season after tallying seven goals and giving out three assists. The midfielder scored the game-winning goals against Syracuse and North Carolina last season and is a member of the USA Field Hockey National Development Squad.
Field Hockey travels to Indiana for their first regular season game on Friday, August 24 at 3 p.m. The Cardinals play Ohio State on Sunday, August 26 at 1 p.m. for their home opener.
You can follow Matt Bradshaw on Twitter @bradmatt8.
Photos by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal