Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Expectations -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
A popular question I hear from people is:
"How do you think (fill in the sport) is going to do this year?
When it comes to UofL women's Fall sports, a few of those questions are now getting partially answered.
Expectations differ, depending on who is doing the expecting. My expectations may differ from a coach, player, another fan's or member of the Cardinal Couple staff.
Which is fine. Expression and freedom of thought is healthy and creates discussion. I'll discuss my expectations, how they are matching up with results and how they might ultimately turn out in today look at (4) squads.
Field Hockey, Women's Soccer, Volleyball and Women's Basketball.
I'll try to keep it short. If your expectations differ, let us know in the comments section.
We've seen a change of guard at the goalkeeping position. When you lose "the greatest goalkeeper in the world" to graduation, you really don't know what to expect at that spot.
I expected a bit of a drop off. I do believe, though, I've been proved wrong.
Consider this, though. In nine games, the Field Hockey Cards have allowed 11 goals. Last year, after nine games, they had allowed 15. Obviously, better than I expected. The squad was 6-3 last year after nine games. This year, they 8-1. So far, better than I expected. Five have been on the road, including their only loss, which was to #1 UNC.
A six game home stand awaits over the next 19 days. The Cards have an RPI at #4 in the nation right now. Virginia is #5, Iowa #17, Stanford #19, Penn State #34, Wake Forest #39 and Longwood #58.
My expectations are for Louisville to win all these six home games. Virginia and Wake Forest to be the toughest of the six. After that, just three regular season games remain. At William and Mary, at Duke and home against Syracuse. A 8-1 finish to the season is entirely possible and what my expectations are. Playing #2 Duke, at Duke, is my only worry. Going into the ACC Tournament with just two losses and these losses to the top two teams in DI Field Hockey.
Bethany Russ has been a force. Hollyn Barr has stepped into goalkeep and been quite effective. The "Flock" swarms on opponents and dictates the action. I love it.
So far, Field Hockey has exceeded my expectations. Exceeding them in the best Field Hockey conference in DI. Let's fire off a water cannon salute! With Jared standing in front of it.
At 9-3, the second year under Dani Busboom Kelly has gone about as well as I expected it to. Losing Wilma Rivera and Molly Sauer to graduation has left some huge spots to fill, but the Volleyball Cards have managed. We all know the capabilities of Melanie McHenry, and she's lived up to them so far. Aiko Jones has been a very pleasant surprise.
Emily Scott is solid and Amber Stivrins is showing potential greatness. Add in Tori Dilfer, Anna Stevenson and Alexis Hamilon and you have a very potent and exciting combination. And these names just scratch the surface of what this squad, as a whole, can do.
Losses to Florida, Purdue and Kentucky were expected by me. These are all top 25 programs. The Cards are tapping at the door to get back in to the top 25 with a current #26 ranking.
The foes ahead? The three opponents that worry me the most are Pittsburgh, Florida State and Notre Dame. The Volleyball Cards play Pitt and UND twice.
Much Volleyball to be play. My expectations were for the squad to be a top 25 squad at this point and they've flirted with that all season. I expected "Mel" to have a great year and she's doing that. Expectations met.
Run down to the bottom of the L&M Federal Credit Union stands and lead a cheer celebrating this, Worldwide Jeff. And get a picture of it, Jared.
I had high expectations for Louisville women's soccer going into the season and, so far, the Kickin' Cards have not disappointed. At 9-1, they're displaying multiple scoring options, shutdown defense and dominating action. with a #18 R.P.I., and a lone loss to #3 UNC, the Cards are using their combination of experience and several new players to optimum efficiency.
Emina Ekic and Brooklyn Rivers are two of the stars on the attack and Gabby Kouzelos is the vault at Fort Knox in goalkeep.
Surviving a team-wide illness last week, Louisville went to Syracuse and Boston College and got the tough road wins.
Consider that the ACC has four of the top five teams in DI WSOC with UNC, Virginia, Florida State and Clemson. The Cards get the Tigers at home next week. They travel to Charlottesville on the 24th. They won't see FSU in the regular season.
If the Cards can manage wins against these two worthy opponents, I'll be pleasantly surprised. Believe. Anything is possible if you believe.
As Case likes to say, The huge importance of a single goal in WSOC is the beauty of the sport. Sometimes, 1-0 wins ARE the most exciting ones.
WSOC gets the stamp of meeting expectations from this columnist. I think our soccer expert Case would agree. If we could only get him to lighten up on post-game questions...
And now, into the great unknown.
Talent. Yep, you bet, in huge numbers. Speed? Oh, yeah.
With the addition of "E" and "Liz", Walz could probably petition the WNBA for inclusion in next year's season. The expectations are high. Quite high.
Coordinating all this talent is going to be a key. Getting the right combinations, finding the "closers" and utilizing the increased height for rebounding superiority are things to be determined. I have faith. Trust in Walz.
Jazz is an Energizer Bunny. You can't stop her, at best, you hope to try and slow her down a bit. Dana is smart, quick and brilliant. Is the shot there, though? Yacine is the veteran. Battle-tested, tough and ready. Is the knee, though? Bionca and Kylee improved last season and we hope to see that trend continue.
The sophomores are hungry. They want some of that court time, too. How much will Kasa, Lindsay and Seygan figure into the arsenal stocked up down on Floyd Street?
This returning nucleus, along with always steady Jess, welcomes the new additions to the fold. Individuals, yes...but they bond as a team and are, in my opinion, a top five team nationwide and the best in the ACC.
The freshmen and transfers could ultimately hold the key on just how far this team goes. I'm ready to head to New Orleans in early April for the Final Four. I'll watch with great interest on how they are deployed this season. Make it so, Cards.
I expect a lot. I have this feeling I'm going to get what I expect.
These are the days of wine and roses on the Belknap Campus. Drink deeply and enjoy the fragrance, Cardinal Fans. In the words of the late Karen Carpenter:
"We've only just begun".
Have a Tremendous Tuesday !!