By Matt Bradshaw —
No. 9 field hockey (10-3) defeated Michigan State (4-11) for their fourth consecutive victory. Louisville turned in a superior offensive performance for a 12-4 shot advantage and 4-1 final score.
Bethany Russ, Taylor Stone, Biz Allgeier and Erica Cooper netted goals for the Cardinals. Both the players and fans wore pink for the matchup to honor breast cancer survivors, victims and promote awareness.
Twenty minutes passed in the first half before any goals were scored. U of L kept the Michigan State defense on its toes with strong possession and multiple opportunities on goal.
“It took a little while to get going in the first half,” head coach Justine Sowry said. “We weren’t playing Louisville field hockey and that’s really frustrating when we’re 11 games into the season.”
Redshirt sophomore Russ took advantage of a penalty corner at the 21st minute and scored her seventh goal of the season. Junior Carter Ayers assisted the opportunity for a 1-0 lead.
“I had some firm words and they started to kick it into action,” Sowry said. “In the first half, our circle return was very good and we were productive. That was one of our goals for this game and something we’ve been working over the last couple of weeks.”
At the 23rd minute, senior Stone took control of another penalty corner and whipped the ball into the cage. Senior Katie Walsh assisted the goal for a team-high seventh assist this season.
Redshirt freshman Allgeier kept things going with a goal at the 27th minute, and freshman Cooper added another one minute later with a deflection off a penalty corner. Cooper leads the squad with eight goals this season.
Louisville scored four goals in under seven minutes and held a 4-0 lead at halftime. The Spartans had zero shots on goal to nine from the Cards.
Michigan State kept fighting and managed a goal off a penalty corner at the 55th minute. Junior Hollyn Barr replaced senior Ayeisha McFerran as goalkeeper and saved the initial shot, but the Spartans scored on the rebound.
“In the second half, we started to play some different players,” Sowry said. “It just knocked us off our rhythm a little bit. Regardless of who comes on and off the bench, we still have to be able to play to our identity and the way we play.”
U of L kept control of the game after the score and did not allow any closer chances. They finished with an 8-2 advantage in corners and won the game 4-1.
Five games remain in the regular season, including two versus conference opponents. Louisville is hitting their stride on the pitch and hope to win a majority of the coming matches to boost their NCAA and ACC standing.
Field hockey hosts No. 4 Duke on Oct. 12 for a top-10 conference matchup.
Along with the pink-out to honor breast cancer survivors and promote awareness, the program honored Sowry and last season’s All-Americans.
Sowry recently picked up her 100th career win as head coach. She has led the Cardinals to four straight NCAA appearances, a conference title and runner-up finish in the ACC Championship.
Field hockey recorded their best-ever conference performance in 2017 with their runner-up finish and remain one of Louisville athletics’ most successful programs. The beginning of October marks the 60th consecutive week Louisville has remained top-20 in the national rankings.
“It’s something we’re really proud of,” Sowry said. “It’s a level of respect around the country, that they’re starting to look more consistently at our team collectively and individually.”
Last year saw the program increase its number of All-American selections. The postgame ceremony honored Nicole Woods, Ayeisha McFerran and Taylor Stone with the unveiling of individual All-American banners at Trager Stadium.
“We’ve had a lot of success as a team and certainly individually,” Sowry said. “To have three All-Americans in one year is huge. It says a lot about the quality of players we’re recruiting and the hard work they’re putting in to become the great players they are.”
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Photos by Matt Bradshaw / The Louisville Cardinal