Notebook: Louisville women's soccer transitioning to July

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Louisville women’s soccer head coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes provided updates for the team that’s in the process of returning players to campus for voluntary workouts.

Newcomers will be relied upon

Louisville has eight newcomers this fall, but two participated in spring workouts prior the University closing its campus in March.

Six newcomers are set to arrive on campus July 7 to begin workouts with the team. Ferguson-Dayes said the incoming players will need the four to five weeks of strength training so their bodies can begin to adjust for the preseason, which starts Aug. 4.

Ferguson-Dayes expects the newcomers to see more playing time early than previous years to avoid injuries.

“I feel like this class, while they might not be prepared as we need them to be, they might actually see more playing time than they would regularly,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “That is partly because we have not played since March. It would be ridiculous for me to think we could put our players in a 90-minute game and not need to sub or go to the bench.”

Ekic and Kouzelos leaders for Louisville

Louisville will be led this fall by Emina Ekic and Gabby Kouzelos.

Ferguson-Dayes has seen growth from both seniors throughout their careers.

Ekic finished with eight goals and eight assists, ranking first on the team in both categories. She had five game-winning goals and earned All-ACC honors for the second straight year in 2019.

The midfielder from DuPont Manual has developed her ability to get other players involved in her time at Louisville.

“When she was in high school and with her club team, Emina had to solve problems always by herself,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “She did that for us when she first came to Louisville. I think her greatest area of growth for her has been that she is solving problems for us as a team, but she is also incorporating our other great players.”

Kouzelos had 10 shutouts and recorded 51 saves in 2019. Ferguson-Dayes believes the goalkeeper is best goalkeeper in the ACC.

“Her growth has been amazing,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “When she was coming out of high school, there was nobody harder on Gabby Kouzelos than Gabby Kouzelos, she has learned to take a deep breath and not marinate on a mistake that she made. She has been outstanding.”

Discipline during COVID-19

Ferguson-Dayes says her players are disciplined and will take the necessary steps to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19.

“They understand that the decisions that they make will directly impact how long our season can go,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “Discipline is part of their daily life because they are a high-level athlete, so if they have to incorporate one more layer of discipline, and really be smart about where they are going and who they are going with, they are doing it.”

Summer camps canceled

Louisville won’t host any camps this summer due to COVID-19.

In 2019, the Cardinals hosted a Future Skills Academy and Summer Elite ID Camps. Ferguson-Dayes was disappointed the camps were unable to be hosted, but safety was the top concerns.

“That was to really make sure we took care of the student-athletes that are on campus and try to limit the amount of people that are coming to campus,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “We think it is a big bummer, it might make it that much more exciting when they come to our games when it happens in the fall.”

Vincent continues professional career

Gaby Vincent began her second season for the Utah Royals FC, a professional soccer team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The defender started 54 games for Louisville from 2015-18.

Vincent didn’t appear in the season-opener, but Ferguson-Dayes said she is happy to be playing soccer.

“She has to continue to be a role player until she gets an opportunity,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “The Gabby that I know and coached will do exactly that.”

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