After three preseason scrimmages, IU Field Hockey is set to get the regular season started Friday.
A task easy for no team gets even tougher when the season opener brings an NCAA Tournament team, No. 9 Louisville, to Bloomington.
As play gets underway across the nation, IU will meet Louisville in a matchup that the Cardinals won 4-1 in Louisville a year ago.
Louisville comes in on the heels of an NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago before dropping to perennial power and IU’s conference rival, Northwestern.
“I’m excited to play a top-10 team because a top-10 team is going to score on all your mistakes,” junior midfielder Ciara Girouard said. “Whether we come out with a win or not, we’re going to see what we need to fix because that’s the type of team that will score on your mistake.”
As IU Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn gets set to finalize the starting lineup for Friday’s matchup, she doesn’t have a clear idea where the production will come from after losing last year’s leading scorer Maddie Latino.
With a variety of returning and new scorers, the chance for production from multiple spots is high.
“That’s, to me, the beauty of sports,” Janney Misselhorn said. “You never know who’s going to step up the next season. I think the depth and the variety of our team is really our strong point, so I think you’re going to see goals come from all different people."
Seeing freshmen score in the preseason was a common sight for the Hoosiers.
Freshmen Hailey Couch, Peyton Beck and others are all expected to see the field this weekend and perhaps even start for IU.
“It’s great to see a recruiting class come in and make an impact so early,” Janney Misselhorn said. “I think the speed and the hustle they bring, they’ve been doing great with all the running and conditioning we’ve been doing and that’s been challenging the upperclassmen. We’re going to have a lot of freshmen on the field this weekend, and we’re expecting a few to start."
As the Hoosiers get set to take on a quick Cardinal squad, IU’s been preparing for all facets of the Louisville game.
After a strong start from the defense in the preseason, senior Taylor Swope expects IU to keep the same level of play heading into a contest with a good offensive side.
“We’ve been doing a lot of quick play, making sure we’re playing up to game speed and having that strong defense to keep it out of our circle,” Swope said.
Swope knows the Hoosiers will have to start quick to have a chance at beating Louisville. Playing on their own terms and not letting Louisville dictate the game will be key in attempting to open the season with a win.
Janney Misselhorn is now entering her fourth season-opener and her fourth straight year playing Louisville.
She knows what to expect out of a Cardinal team that features an attack that includes two girls that have played for their respective nation’s teams in past tournaments.
Minout Mink — Netherlands — and Taylor Stone -- U.S. -- are at the forefront of the attack for Louisville. The two combined for 18 goals a season ago and are primed for big seasons again.
“Louisville is a talented team. We know they bring a lot of speed coming from the ACC," Janney Misselhorn said. "We’re just trying to play up and keep the intensity high because we know they’re a fast team. We’re going to expect that and be ready for that. Our intensity is great. We’ve been working on different combinations but the intensity is there and they’re hungry to play a real game.”
After playing the Cardinals, the Hoosiers will use the things they learned Friday as they head into an in-state rivalry in Muncie. Both games will start at 3 p.m.
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IU will take a 12-8 nonconference slate into conference play.
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IU is 11-6 overall after its 4-3 win over University of Hawaii on March 14.