YOUTH MOVEMENT KICKS PAST BRONCOS 6-2 IN HOME OPENER
To say that the University of Louisville women's soccer team is young would be a "Captain obvious" over-statement.
Last night, in Lynn Stadium, the "kickin" Cards" started six freshmen and got five of their six goals out of that freshman contingent, plus a goal from a sophomore (Emma Hiscock) who saw limited action last season, in the four-goal romp over visiting Western Michigan.
This Louisville WSOC attack is fun to watch, very pro-active and aggressive with the ball. Those tactics paid off in the eighth minute of play when Brooke Dardano and Maisie Whitsett set up the perfect pass to Nina Nicosia to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. Just eight minutes later Morgan Bentley got a pass to Brooke Dardano for goal #2 and the Cards had already matched their output in scores from their exhibition game last week against Ball State.
Louisville would continue to control things in the offensive set and, despite allowing a Bronco goal with nine minutes left in the first half, looked to have a firm control of the pitch action as the squads went to halftime -- UofL sporting a 2-1 lead. The Cards held a 11-4 shot advantage over the MAC foe and a 59% to 41% edge in possession time.
If you like scoring on the soccer pitch, the best was still ahead.
Wheaton, IL freshman forward Julia Simon was pumped for the final 45 minutes and it showed, as she got loose with just four minutes gone in the second half and drilled an unassisted goal past WMU goalkeeper Maggie Rogers to put the Cards up 3-1. Simon was still feeling the "magic foot" and added her second goal of the match just seven minutes later -- off a nice feed from Dardano -- to set the tally at Cards 4 - Broncos 1.
The proliferation of Cardinal points was slightly interrupted when WMU's Jenna Blackman picked up her second score of the match three minutes later. The Cards remained aggressive in the attack, though and stingy on the defense and it paid off when Sophomore Emma Hiscock found net success with 14 minutes left in the contest. Nicosia had started the scoring frenzy a couple of hours earlier, so it was perhaps fitting that she end it -- connecting on an unassisted shot with 2:40 left on the scoreboard.
The romp was complete and the Cards had begun the regular season with a convincing win over a faairly decent MAC foe that had finished 6-2-2 last year and had their leading scorer, assist creator and starting goalie back from that squad.
Louisville had a 27-9 shot advantage over WMU on the evening and 13-5 edge on shots on goal. The Cardinals also held a 8-0 edge on corner kicks. UofL goalkeeper Gabby Kouzelos recorded three saves in her season opener --she has 195 of them in her long and illustrious career as the Cards net-tender.
I was able to gets post-game words from UofL head women's soccer coach Karen Ferguson Dayes and Julia Simon after the match. You can hear those at the links below:
All in all, a fun, feel-good win for Ferguson-Dayes and her young gunslingers last night. A night that featured a duck landing on the Lynn turf and getting wide open for a potential Cardinal shot attempt in the first half, but deciding wisely to take flight and leave the field when the Cards came charging toward her on a breakaway.
(photos by Jared Anderson)
JEFF WALZ INTERVIEW
Jeff Walz talked with several members of the media in a teleconference yesterday and caught us all up on the activities and pursuits of the 2021-22 Louisville women's basketball squad and, obligatorily, Walz's tennis pursuits.
It was good to hear from Walz again and we got informative new on Chelsie Hall, Emily Engstler, Payton Verhulst, Hailey Van Lith, Olivia Cochran, Liz Dixon, Alexia Mobley and more.
You can hear the 21-minute presser below:
Have a fun Friday!