UMass field hockey will be well represented at the 2014 Women's National, U-21 Championships
Justine Sowry returned the UMass field hockey program to national prominence in four seasons as head coach (2007-10). Sowry had a 58-31 (.652) overall record in those four seasons, including a 22-4 (.846) mark in Atlantic 10 play, leading to her being named A-10 Coach of the Year three of those four seasons (2007, 2008, 2010), and Dita/NFHCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year twice (2008, 2010).
The University of Louisville announced on Dec. 16, 2010 that Sowry had been hired as the Cardinals' new head coach.
Sowry led UMass to a 15-8 overall record in 2010, including a perfect 7-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutewomen defeated Temple and Lock Haven to claim their 12th A-10 Championship. UMass advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time in program history by earning an at-large bid before falling to eventual-National Champion Maryland, 4-2. UMass finished the season ranked No. 15 in the NCAA RPI.
In 2009, Sowry and the Minutewomen finished the season with a 12-9 overall record and a 3-3 mark in A-10 play. UMass began the season with a 5-1 record, defeating three ranked teams in the process (No. 20 Providence, No. 9 Iowa, and No. 12 James Madison). The team climbed the national rankings, reaching a high of No. 9 in the NFHCA poll on Sept. 30. Defense was once again the key for UMass under Sowry as the 2009 team finished in the top 10 nationally in shutouts for the third-straight year.
In 2008, Sowry led UMass to a 17-5 mark, the program's most wins since 2000. The Minutewomen finished the regular season with a 14-4 record, including a perfect 6-0 conference record. They went on to defeat Saint Joseph's and Richmond in the A-10 Championship to imrove Sowry's career record to 4-0 in the conference playoffs. A NCAA play-in game win over #19 Kent State led UMass to its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance where it fell at #3 Syracuse, 3-2, in a hard-fought game.
Sowry's team had the third-best goals against average (1.04) in the country in 2008 and ranked fourth in shutouts (.41/game). Her Minutewomen finished the season with the 16-best winning percentage (.773) in the NCAA.
Sowry was recognized for her achievements by being named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year for the second year in a row and also garnered NFHCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors as well.
In 2007, the first-year head coach led UMass to a 14-9 overall record, including a 6-1 mark in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutewomen defeated Richmond, 2-1, in the A-10 semifinals to end the Spiders' run of five-straight conference titles and went on to defeat Saint Joseph's, 2-1, on the Hawks home field to claim UMass' 10th Atlantic 10 Championship. From there, the Minutewomen traveled to Princeton and defeated the #17 Tigers, 2-1, in an NCAA Play-In game to clinch their 20th NCAA Tournament berth.
Her 2007 efforts her recognized throughout the field hockey community. The Atlantic 10 Conference named her Coach of the Year, while WomensFieldHockey.com named her its National Coach of the Year.
Sowry's impact on the program was felt immediately as she led UMass to 14 wins in 2007 after a six-win season in 2006. The defensive-minded coach turned the Minutewomen into the seventh-toughest to score on team in the country (1.08 GAA) and finished third in the country in shutouts-per-game (0.41) behind only #1 North Carolina and #7 James Madison. In conference play, Sowry's defense was even stingier, allowing only two goals in regular season A-10 games.
In four years at UMass, Sowry coached five All-Americans (Alesha Widdall in 2008 and 2010 and Makaela Potts in 2008, 2009, and 2010), 17 Regional All-Americans, 19 Atlantic 10 All-Conference selections, nine Atlantic 10 All-Rookie performers, and five Atlantic 10 All-Academic choices. She coached Katelyn Orlando and Alesha Widdall to A-10 Offensive Player of the Year and A-10 Co-Rookie of the Year, respectively, in 2008, and Makaela Potts to A-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors in both 2009 and 2010. Widdall was named A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year in 2010 as well.
After three highly-successful seasons as an assistant coach for the United States National Team, Sowry was named the head coach of the University of Massachusetts field hockey program by Director of Athletics John McCutcheon on Jan. 22, 2007. Sowry came to UMass with a sensational background as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of field hockey in addition to being a top-level coach with various programs at all levels of the game for the previous 12 years.
"We are extremely pleased that Justine has joined the UMass athletic family," said McCutcheon upon her hire. "Her experience at the collegiate, national and international levels will be a tremendous asset to our field hockey team. Justine has an infectious energy, enthusiasm and passion that will serve her well as she leads our program forward."
From Dec. 2003 through Jan. 2007, Sowry served as a USA High Performance Coach with the U.S. Field Hockey Association (USFHA) based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She served as the director of all goalkeeping programs as part of the USFHA, the camp director of the FDIC, High School Open Camp and the Junior National Camp. Recently, she has coached Amy Tran, who was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2006 World Cup in Madrid, Spain in addition to being named to the FIH World Team of the Year under Sowry's tutelege.
With the USFHA, Sowry wrote the curriculum for the Futures Team goalkeepers each of the last two years. As an assistant coach with the U.S. National Team in 2006, the team placed sixth in the world at the games in Madrid. She also assisted with the 2005 Junior National Team which placed seventh in the Junior World Cup in Santiago, Chile.
Prior to joining the USFHA, Sowry served as an assistant coach for the Stanford University field hockey program during the 2003 season. She spent the previous five campaigns (1998-2002) as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville, where she worked under UMass alum Pam Bustin, whom Sowry calls her "mentor at the collegiate level." Sowry aided Bustin in orchestrating one of the most remarkable program-building efforts in the nation. The Cardinals went from a 34-game losing streak which was broken in the duo's first season in Louisville in 1998 to winning records in each season from 2000-03 including the MAC conference championship in 2002.
Sowry also had been the Assistant Director for field hockey camps at Louisville over three summers (2001-03) and has taught at various goalkeeping elite clinics since 1993.
The Australia-native was a member of the Australian National Hockey Team from 1991-2001. She earned a total of 128 international caps, and was a member of the country's 1996 and 2000 Olympic squads. She earned gold medals while playing on World Cup teams in 1994 and 1998.
Sowry, 39, earned a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Mathematics from the University of South Australia in 1991.
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