By Matt Bradshaw —
Lacrosse faced a staggering 13-1 deficit against No. 5 North Carolina on Senior Day. The Tar Heels dominated possession of the ball and outshot the Cardinals 25-8 by halftime.
Though staring down their fourth straight loss, Louisville continued fighting. The Cards outshot and outscored the visitors in the second half, spurred by a team-high eight shots from senior Tessa Chad. She finished with her ninth hat trick of the season to lead the team in scoring in the 17-6 loss.
Chad’s resilience goes beyond her performance on Senior Day, as demonstrated throughout her collegiate career. The Orono, Ontario native took a large leap when she transferred to Louisville from Canisius last season.
“Tessa has a special place with me, even before coming to Louisville,” second-year head coach Scott Teeter said, who arrived on campus from Canisius with Chad and junior Brenna Shanahan in 2017. The trio won back-to-back conference titles for Canisius before joining the Cardinals.
Along with their time in Buffalo, Teeter and Chad spent time together on the Canadian National Team. No one knows better than Teeter how Chad journeyed from a young athlete to both collegiate and national talent.
“I recruited Tessa at a young age out of a different element than most players,” Teeter said. “She was playing indoor lacrosse in Canada when I saw her for the first time, when she was the captain of Team Ontario.”
Chad comes from an athletic family, where sports like lacrosse and ice hockey are ingrained in the blood. Upon first arriving at Canisius, Chad wasted no time in scoring 38 goals as a freshman and earning MAAC Rookie of the Year. She later scored 53 goals as a sophomore and earned All-MAAC First Team honors.
“Tessa has developed into an outstanding lacrosse player with special attributes,” Teeter said. “She was already a big-time shooter and goal scorer, and she didn’t just leave it at that. She really honed in at Canisius. She took that conference by surprise with her hands and shooting ability.”
Upon arriving in Louisville, Chad did not miss a beat and scored 42 goals as a junior for the Cards.
Perhaps most important was the leadership Chad provided, along with veteran teammate Shanahan. The program faced a tough coaching transition after the departure/transfer of 16 players and firing of 10-year coach Kellie Young in 2017. Chad became the bridge that incoming coach Teeter needed.
“I’ve seen her develop her leadership skills,” Teeter said. “She really helped bridge the gap with the current players and the coaching change, telling them the Teeter way. Having that bridge really helped the younger players understand when I was giving tough love, when I was coming down hard on them.”
Chad has grown extremely close with Teeter and his family. Teeter told a funny story from when he coached Chad and the U-19 Canadian National team to the women’s first-ever title at the 2015 World Championship.
“My daughter, Olivia, has really gravitated to Tessa,” Teeter said. “We come back from the World Championship and Olivia was, I believe, two years old. Me and Olivia were talking about a maple leaf and she goes, ‘Daddy, I’m gonna get a maple leaf stamp on my foot like Tessa has.’ A.K.A. a tattoo. I’m like, ‘Well great, Tessa, you’re teaching my two-year-old to get a tattoo.'”
Louisville will certainly miss Chad after she graduates, but the senior has a bright future ahead beyond the collegiate arena. Chad stands poised to make some noise and continue thriving at the national level.
“Tessa’s gonna be a force to reckon with,” Teeter said. “She will more than likely be on the next Canadian Senior Team and be one of our big threats as a goal scorer.”
Chad guides the current Louisville team in scoring with 44 goals this season. The Cards have a 4-10 overall record and 0-5 record in the ACC. They will shoot for their first conference win in two seasons at Virginia on April 13 and at Boston College on April 20.
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Photos by Matt Bradshaw / The Louisville Cardinal