Two… pass outside.
Three… a breakaway down the field.
Six… another opportunity.
Seven… over the head.
Eight… shove to the back.
Nine… step over.
Senior midfielder, Avery Fenchel, took on the first three goals as she stepped out on the field after recovering from last season's ankle injury.
“Everyone contributed today,” Fenchel said.
Sophomore midfielder, Tori Monaco, assisted two of Fenchel’s goals.
Monaco listens to rap artists, Jay Cole and Trippy Red continuously the hour prior to the game to help set her focus and mindset while doing some visualization.
“I know that when I’m playing confident, that’s when I’m playing my best,” Monaco said.
Sophomore, Delaney Caldwell, crossed a low hard ball into the box in the 50th minute giving Sophomore forward, Emily Roper, an opportunity to score with a single touch, which ricocheted off the goalkeeper’s glove.
Unlike Monaco, Roper finds her pregame rituals more calming to distract her nerves. She enjoys listening to sad songs by artists such as Bruno Mars and Billie Eilish. However, she also finds herself staying busy with puzzles.
“I have already finished two, 2000-piece puzzles in the two weeks I have been here,” Roper said. “I like to separate by color, then all the edges and go from there.”
Once the game starts her nerves are calm and she is able to zone in on the game with her teammates.
Senior defender, Ryann Locante, scored in the 71st minute of the game, giving the Cardinals a five-point lead.
Mercyhurt’s senior midfielder, Emily Mijgres, scored in the 72nd minute of the game off a penalty kick following junior defender Alex McPhee’s foul.
Although the Cardinals held a several-point lead for the majority of the game the team is sure to express the challenges they still faced.
“We’ve got to continue to push our mental focus from start to finish… The game of soccer allows for some physicality, so we can’t be on the back foot and be knocked off balance when we aren’t prepared for those moments,” head coach Josh Rife said.
Although there are things to focus on in the game, Rife expresses other aspects of the game that are crucial to their success.
“I think you bond through adversity,” Rife said. “It’s how we stick together in those moments” which helps them connect on the field and work together.”
The team continues to bond after the preseason when going out to dinner, spending time at practice, and enjoying recovery days. Following a game day they often spend time together doing yoga or going to the pool to allow their bodies time to rest and prepare for their next game.
The Cardinals will be in South Bend to take on Notre Dame on Sunday, August 20th at noon.