LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was a game that celebrated the continued growth of field hockey in this area. Twelve players from Louisville, six on each side as U of L hosted Miami University (OH) on Monday night at Trager Stadium.
"It's so much fun to have a big fan base," said U of L redshirt junior midfielder and Assumption High School graduate Camryn Pichea. "I know half of them are for the other team (Miami), but it's just such a good environment, such good spirits, so much support for both sides which I just think is really, really great."
U of L coach Justine Sowry has helped push her local players to greater heights, starting a cycle of improvement in the game.
"Justine is just kind of like, 'we don't have as much talent here so it's harder for us to recruit here,'" said Pichea. "'And you all don't work as hard because you don't have the competition that the northeast does so you don't have that work ethic.' So it's actually incredible that a number of girls on this team coach at local clubs because we're then able to instill that work ethic and talent and all the little things we can teach them to create the talent that we have today. So it's just amazing how much it's grown and that's why we have more and more girls locally playing at such high levels which is awesome."
The Cardinals have picked up where they left off in the pandemic-added spring season when the team rose as high as number two in the national rankings and advanced to its first final four.
The 4-1 win over Miami has the Cards at 11-1, ranked third in the country. It's the best start in program history with seven of those wins coming against ranked opponents. This despite the challenges of having little to no off-season.
"I think certainly a whole bunch of our starters or players who have played a lot are feeling it," said Sowry. "To go back-to-back-to-back (seasons), it is a lot for sure. In the same respect, we're having a lot of fun, a lot more fun. We're 100% vaccinated. We can hang out in the locker room, have dinner together. Just better team camaraderie, better team dynamic and more team building so it's more fun for sure."
The Cardinals will play their next five games on the road. That includes three more teams ranked in the top 15, starting with a trip to second-ranked Michigan Sunday.
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