Monday, August 13, 2018
Analyzing Fall Sports -- Louisville women's soccer -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
LOUISVILLE WSOC -- TALENT RETURING, TONS OF FRESHMEN
Over the next several days this week, we'll be looking at some of the Louisville women's fall sports and trying to provide a pre-season analysis of how they might do and who will be doing it in their contests.
We'll start with Louisville women's soccer, who actually have started their season with a 4-0 exhibition win over Morehead State Saturday night in Louisville at Lynn Stadium.
Cardinal Couple's Case Hoskins will provide a lot of the breakdown and analysis of the WSOC games this year -- he'll be our "lead" when it comes to the sport -- and his thoughts may differ from mine (Paulie) or the other staffers...but I'll also be at all the home contests I can make and will offer today my "take" on the season and squad. Plus, I hope to have plenty of post-game interviews with Coach Ferguson-Dayes and players through-out the 2018 season.
30 student-athletes are listed on the 2018 Louisville WSOC roster and 13 are freshmen. When 43% of the roster are freshmen, it can be a bit of an uncertain...but exciting and maybe a little nervous time for a coach. Ask Karen Ferguson Dayes. Out of the freshmen, it's our best guess that we'll see significant playing time from defender Sarah Hernandez, forward Delaney Snyder, midfielder Anna Henderson, defender Morgan Jackson and forward Amari Hopkins.
Out of the returning 17 Cardinals, Emina Ekic returns from a season-ending knee injury last year and should be very influential in the offense. Midfielder Mollie Rouse is still in England playing for the English U 20 World Cup squad and, depending on how they do (they've already qualified for the quarterfinals), she may not be back until the Michigan or Kentucky game in late August. "Gabby squared" -- Gabby Kouzelos at keeper and Gabrielle Vincent at middle defender, give the Cards a strong middle in the defensive set. Those two were a strong presence in last year's defense, which produced eight shutouts. Lana Batson provides strong backup as a reserve keeper.
Niamh Nelson, Nadege L'Esperance, Taylor Kerwin, Brooklyn Rivers, Allison Whitfield and Kennadi Carbin all provide excellent scoring potential for the Louisville offense...the state of Kentucky trio of Ekic, Rivers and Whitfield were the leading scores last year for the squad. Nine starters from last year return.
A roster breakdown by state (and country) shows six players from Kentucky (five from Louisville), six from California (four from San Diego) and five from Ohio. Two players from Colorado and one each from New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Washington. Two Cardinals are from Canada and one is from England. By class the roster has 13 freshmen, seven sophomores, eight juniors and two seniors.
The schedule features 17 games before the ACC Tournament. Nine will be played at Louisville's Lynn Stadium. There are ten conference matchups, Louisville playing each of the 10 schools once. There are actually 14 teams that play women's soccer in the ACC, the Cards will not face Boston College, Clemson or Florida State in regular season play. That might work out well for Louisville...FSU is ranked #10 in preseason polls and Clemson is in the "also receiving votes" column.
In 2017, the Cards went 9-7-2 overall and 3-5-2 in conference.
The Cards open the regular season with two home games... Wright State, from the Horizon League (12-8, 6-3 in 2017) followed by A-10 school...Xavier (8-8-4, 4-3-2). I will predict the Cards put both in the win column.
Trips to another A-10 school in Dayton (9-9-2, 4-4-2) and the Big 10's Michigan (6-6-6, 3-5-3) follow. I'll predict a win over Dayton and let's go with a tie against the Wolverines.
The Kentucky Wildcats (8-12, 3-7) visit Lynn Stadium on Aug. 31st. Louisville defeated the SEC school at Lexington last year 3-1 in a rain-soaked affair and I choose Louisville as the winner again this year.
Next the Kickin' Cards travel to Purdue (10-7-2, 5-4-2) on Sept 6th. The Boilermakers have looked pretty good in exhibition play, beating Indiana State and battling preseason #14 Notre Dame to a scoreless tie. I'll say Purdue in a low scoring affair up there.
Louisville ends the non-conference part of the schedule against Eastern Kentucky from the OVC (11-5-4, 6-1-3) at Lynn and I'll go with a UofL victory prediction here.
ACC play begins Set 15th. at Pittsburgh. The Cards were predicted in the preseason poll to finish ninth out of the 14 schools. I think they'll do a little better than that and be one of the eight schools that make the ACC Tournament. Against Pitt (0-9-1, 3-12-3) I see Louisville winning their first conference game.
Thursday, Sept. 20th. features Notre Dame coming to town. The Irish were 9-8-5 overall in 2017 and 5-3-2 in conference. They finished the season ranked 18th. in the polls. The prediction here is a hard-fought battle that ends in a tie.
Louisville hosts Syracuse (7-8-2, 2-6-1) on Sept 23rd. and I'll go with the Cards getting their second conference win in this one.
A trip to North Carolina (17-3-2, 8-0-2) follows on Sept 29th. Last year, the Cards pulled off a major shocker against the #8 school in the nation with a scoreless tie. The TarHeels are preseason-ranked at #6 this year and I hate to say it, but I think they get the better of Louisville in 2018.
October features six ACC matches. Virginia (13-7-4, 5-2-3) comes to visit on Oct. 4th. The Cavaliers finished 2017 ranked #9 in the nation and took Louisville 1-0 last year in Charlottesville. I'll hope for a loud and rowdy Thursday night crowd that will help Louisville get a tie against Wahoo Nation this year.
Sunday, Oct 7th. brings Miami (1-9-1, 5-11-0) to "the Ville" and I think the Cards pick up their third conference win in this one over Bassy the Ibus and company.
Louisville goes on a three game tour of the state of North Carolina next, beginning with a October 12th. stop at Wake Forest (13-7-4, 5-3-2). UofL tied the Demon Deacons last year in Lynn Stadium 0-0 and I'll call for another tie this year in Winston-Salem.
The road trip continues in Durham on Oct 21st. with a Sunday match against Duke (10-0-0, 23-2-1). The Blue Devils are placed #3 in the nation in preseason prognostications and I'm afraid they'll have a little more than the Cards can handle and defeat UofL.
The tour of Carolina ends with a Oct 21st. visit to Raleigh and the North Carolina State WolfPack (15-5-2, 6-3-1). The Cards visited there in 2017 and left a 2-1 loser. N.C.State finished 21st. in the nation in 2017 and they'll give Ms. Wuf a reason to dance and they'll probably best the Cards again this year.
Louisville ends the regular season on Oct. 25th. when they host Virginia Tech (1-5-3, 7-6-5) on a Thursday night. These two did not meet in 2017. I'm predicting a Cardinal win to end the regular season.
So, let's recap. I'm calling for a 10-3-4 overall finish and 4-3-3 ACC mark. That would equal out to 15 "points" in conference standings. That's also four more points than Louisville amassed in 2017. Boston College was the final qualifier for the ACC Tournament with 13 points in 2017.
Feel differently about the season? Agree with me? Let me know in the comments section.
Injuries, weather conditions and players who shine in reserve roles can obviously affect a season...as any coach will verify. Here's hoping for a minimum of "dings and dents", bearable temperatures with clear skies and lots of Cards contributing on the pitch.
Join in the fun at Lynn this season, won't you?