Aug. 27, 2007
Hello Cardinal Soccer Fans!
Welcome back to another exciting season of Louisville Women's Soccer! We are looking forward to building on the most successful season in school history by reaching even greater heights this year. Last year's departing seniors certainly left big shoes to fill, but with a solid core of returning players and a talented crop of freshmen this year promises to be another thrilling one for the Cardinals.
With a young crop of players it was important to test ourselves early, and we did so by scheduling two exhibition contests against perennial powerhouses Tennessee and Nebraska. With only four days of practice under our belts we departed for Knoxville to take on a solid Volunteer squad. With a few players nursing injuries, a lineup full or fresh faces, and formidable heat, the hope was to put together a solid performance while finding a little bit more about who we are as a team. And, despite losing the match 1-0, the match proved to be full of positives. Senior Jen Avila teamed up with a duo of freshmen in Kelsey Hunyadi and Caitlin Rehder to provide a potent attack which came close to scoring on a number of occasions. The midfield was led by senior preseason All Big East selection Monique Gjini and joined by Sophomores Lindsay Boling and Katie Owen, combining to help create chances while at the same time stifling Tennessee's midfielders throughout the day. Our defensive unit held strong despite its youth, with senior Erica Robinson and junior Jessica Mello providing support alongside freshmen Meredith Tolley and Shannon Leamy in their first collegiate game. The defense held strong throughout the ninety minutes, but when chances came, senior Joanna Haig showed the form that made her an All American last season. It was also a great opportunity to give young players some experience. Freshmen Caley Egan, Emily Prokopik, Erin Davis, and Chelsea Spencer settled in well entering their first college game, and sophomore goalkeeper Katie Zoeller came in during the second half and came up with a fantastic save at point blank range. Exhibition matches are all about experience, and while we would have loved to win this one, we walked away knowing what steps we have to take to prepare ourselves to be successful during the regular season when every game counts.
A few days later the University of Nebraska came to town for the 4th annual Jenna Cooper Memorial Match. As the last exhibition before the regular season we felt it was important for us to build on the strong performance against Tennessee and if we got a result then all the better. Our attacking prowess was once again displayed, and it did not take long before it produced results. In the eighth minute Lindsay Boling dropped a softly weighted through ball in behind the Nebraska back line to Kelsey Hunyadi who showed tremendous composure as she cut the ball around the goalkeeper and tapped it into the back of the net to give us an early 1-0 advantage. Nebraska threw numbers forward throughout the first half, but once again our defensive unit proved solid and stifled most of the Nebraska attacks before they became dangerous. On the other end our attack continued to flourish, leading to breakaway opportunities for Jen Avila and Lindsay Boling that were well saved by the Nebraska goalkeeper, keeping the score 1-0 at halftime. The second half was much of the same, and we got our second goal in the 59th minute from Monique Gjini. Nebraska had the ball in possession in their defensive end, but an ill-advised pass fell to Gjini's feet thirty five yards from goal. Gjini took a quick glance and noticed the goalkeeper well off her line, and, displaying a bit of savvy, she drove the ball over the goalkeeper's head and picked out the top left corner of the goal to make the score 2-0. Late in the game a few of the young players stepped in and showed their ability. Emily Prokopik won a fifty-fifty ball with the goalkeeper and put a shot on frame, but a Nebraska defender dove and somehow managed to deflect the ball wide. Then, late in the match Nebraska pushed numbers forward and a player managed to break free along the left side of the 18 yard box, but the attacker's blast was tipped off of the crossbar and out by Freshmen goalkeeper Katie Kuric, who came on in the second half to team with Joanna Haig to preserve the shutout for the Cards.
With two solid performances under our belts we are now set to begin the regular season where we finished off last year. We open up the regular season with this week in West Lafayette, IN, against two NCAA Tournament opponents. We take on Loyola-Chicago on Friday night at 5:00pm, and then we turn around to play Big Ten power Purdue on Sunday at 1:00pm. It will be a challenging way to begin the season, but we are confident that we will be all set to start off the season on a winning note!
All the best