Louisville Scores Early and Often in Semifinal
The Cards put any fears of their offense being MIA to bed yesterday when they scored five goals on Virginia to win 5-2, a match of the score between the two teams earlier this season. So much for my prediction that Louisville would rather play Wake Forest due to Virginia's additional motivation against the Cards. The win was a big one for Louisville, following the disappointing defeat against Syracuse to wrap up the regular season.
Louisville opened the scoring right off the bat with an Aimee Plumb goal less than two minutes into the match. The goal came on live play and is the first item listed in the game's play-by-play breakdown. Just after the opening goal, Madison Walsh attempted to double the Cards' advantage but her shot went just wide. The two teams went on to trade substitutions for the next six minutes with no terribly threatening action on either side before Virginia's Adele Iacobucci got free and tied the match at 1-1 with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. Virginia would go on to get two more shots in the first, with one requiring Hollyn Barr to make the first save of the game for either team, but the whistle blew with the score remaining 1-1.
The second period saw Louisville control the ball for the majority of the action, but it also saw them miss out on three penalty corner chances. The first two chances came back-to-back four minutes into the quarter. Alli Bitting set up Mercedes Pastor, but Pastor's shot was blocked out for another corner. The next set piece saw the same attack, with Meche's second attempt going wide of the goal. For the next eight minutes, neither team could get anything going in attack before Louisville earned their third penalty corner of the period. Again, Alli Bitting took the pass in, but it was Aimee Plumb on the receiving end this time. Plumb lined up her second shot on goal of the afternoon, but it was saved. The two teams headed to the locker rooms still tied at 1-1, and the game began to look like it could go either way.
That all changed with whatever Coach Sowry said in her halftime speech. The Cards came out on the front foot in the third quarter and didn't let up. Two and a half minutes in, Louisville earned their fourth penalty corner of the game. This one saw Madison Walsh with the in-pass to Julie Kouijzer, who continued it along to Katie Schneider. Schneider's shot found the back of the cage. 2-1 Cards. Less than two minutes later, Madison Walsh got the chance to add to the Louisville lead and took it with a shot into the corner. 3-1 Cards. After another four minutes of relentless attack, Louisville earned another penalty corner. Emilia Kaczmarczyk's shot was blocked, but Virginia was unable to clear. Alli Bitting got ahold of the ball and found Margot Lawn, who knocked in her fourth goal of the year and Louisville's fourth of the game. After that, Virginia made a keeper substitution, but the damage had been done. Immediately after entering, though, Henrikson got the opportunity to prove her mettle and saved a Meche Pastor shot. Louisville finished the quarter with a 4-1 lead.
The Cards picked up in the fourth where they left off in the third. Just a minute and a half in, Charlie van Oirschot snagged her third goal of the season and put this one all the way out of reach. Taylor Henrikson was able to pick up two more saves, including one on a Louisville corner attempt, but Virginia's offense couldn't make up the difference. The Cavaliers were able to claw one goal back after cleaning up a Hollyn Barr save on a corner attempt, but making it 5-2 with three minutes left is hardly the most inspiring goal. Louisville would go on wrap up the victory and advance to tomorrow's final.
The Cards will now get the chance for some payback against UNC. Sure, Louisville took the victory earlier this season, snapping UNC's massive winning streak, and that was a huge win. However, this would be Louisville's chance to win their first conference tournament since winning the MAC in 2004 (hat tip to Kelly Dickey). Also, per that Kelly Dickey tweet, a win would give the Louisville athletic program just its third ACC tournament win since joining the conference (2018 men's soccer and women's basketball). Even more than that, Louisville is playing in a mirrored situation to 2017. In that season, the Cards hosted the ACC tournament and advanced to the finals to take on top-seeded UNC. They lost 1-0. This year, Louisville is the top seed and UNC host the tournament. Turnabout's fair play. Tomorrow's match will get underway at noon and will air on the ACC Network proper. Check out Coach Justine Sowry's postgame interview from yesterday by clicking the link below.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We're without Jared this week, but Paulie, Jeff, and I will still be bringing you the joy and excitement of Louisville women's athletics on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast. As the regular season wrapped up last week, there aren't too many games to review, but that won't slow us down. With a big win yesterday, plus games to preview and more news throughout the week, we'll have plenty to discuss. Tune in to the Cardinal Couple YouTube Channel at 11AM for the live show, or check out the podcast following the conclusion of the live episode.
Until next time, Go Cards!