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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Field Hockey, Soccer Open Conference Seasons with Wins -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Field Hockey Continues Undefeated Start

After volleyball won a tight match to move to 9-0 on the season on Wednesday, field hockey figured that seemed like a pretty cool thing to do. As such, Sowry's Cards welcomed in the 11th ranked Virginia Cavaliers for their conference opener and fought hard til the end to maintain a 1-0 victory. The win moved the 5th ranked Cards to 7-0 on the season and gave them a confidence booster to open the conference slate. 

Louisville's offense struggled in this one a tad, making it the second straight Friday match with a problem for the Cards. They looked to have shaken off their woes when they dropped three goals on Liberty Sunday, but the Cavaliers held the offense in check. Louisville managed only four shots and one corner in the game, and those all came in the first half. On the other hand, Virginia kept consistent pressure on Louisville's defense with a total of ten shots (five on goal) spread throughout the match. The Hoos biggest pressures came in the first and third quarters, when they put up four shots in each. Fortunately for the Cards, freshman goalkeeper Mila de Kuijer was up to the task and had five saves, earning the clean sheet.

On the other end, it was a wonderful goal to give the Cards the lead in the second period. Originally appearing to be a fantastic long shot by Charlie van Oirschot, the goal was officially credited to Mattie Tabor, with the credit going to CVO for the assist. Had the goal been given to van Oirschot, it would given Louisville its 12th different goal scorer of the season. Instead, Tabor scored her fourth of the season, the most on the team. Louisville had a couple of chances to double their advantage in the second with a shot by Mia Duchars blocked just five minutes after the goal. Then, shortly before the quarter ended, Louisville earned their only penalty corner of the match. Unfortunately, Mackenzie Karl's shot attempt went wide. 

After the onslaught from Virginia in the third quarter, the fourth was rather uneventful. The Cavaliers did take the risk of pulling the goalie in a last ditch effort to tie the match, but it was for less than 90 seconds. All in all, Louisville's defense held strong in the second half, but they'll be looking for their offense to return to form. The Cards have a huge test coming up next as they'll take on the Iowa Hawkeyes, currently ranked second in the country. We talked briefly about the Big Ten emergence in field hockey on the CCRH Podcast last week, and Iowa has been a big part of that. The game will be shown on the ACC Network proper and gets underway at 2PM tomorrow.

Soccer Gets Back on Track with Win at Miami

For the second match in a row, Louisville found themselves tied with the opponent after 90 minutes. Unlike the last match, the Cards were able to find the net in the overtime period, scoring three unanswered goals after half time to overcome a 2-0 deficit at Miami. While Louisville probably would have gladly left Cobb Stadium with a point after the first half, they're sure to be thrilled to have earned all three to open the conference season on the road. 

It took about 50 minutes extra to start the game, due to weather in the area, but the teams kicked off to what appeared to be a pretty average night in Miami. Like many of the recent matchups between the Cards and Hurricanes, Louisville owned this one offensively. The Cards put up 12 shots, with six on frame, compared to eight and two for the Hurricanes. Unfortunately for Louisville, they gathered no saves in the first half while Miami picked up six. While both of Miami's goals were pretty flukey, flukey goals still count. 

The first came in the 25th minute, when a crossing ball headed to the side of the goal on Gabby Kouzelos's right. A header flicked it high in the air and farther away from goal, and everyone relaxed for a moment as they anticipated it going out of bounds. The relaxation was brief, though, as a Miami player made for the endline to keep it in play. Kouzelos reacted by moving all the way to her goal post, cutting off the short side opportunity for a goal. However, the ball didn't come to the ground. Instead, Jackie Koerwitz headed it back up and across the goal, where it drifted just over Sarah Hernandez and found Maria Jakobsdottir, who slotted it home. Perhaps the most frustrating part about the goal is that it came on a Miami possession immediately following what was pretty clearly an uncalled handball in the box that would have awarded a penalty to Louisville. So it goes. 

The second goal wasn't quite as wild as that one, but it was still quite unfortunate. The Cards had thus far been unable to answer the first goal, with possession split between the two teams after Miami broke the seal. The Canes had threatened with a corner and an offsides, but finally took advantage of a gap in the defense when Katrina Molina found an opening at the top of the box. She fired a shot on frame that looked as though it wouldn't be much problem for Kouzelos. Herandez again had a hand in this goal, though, as the shot clipped off her thigh without losing any speed and redirected to find its way just inside the post and just outside of Kouzelos's outstretched reach. 

Down 2-0, the Cards didn't look to be giving up, but I was beginning to wonder if it just wasn't to be their night. Perhaps I had jinxed them with the prewriting I had done. A couple of more opportunities presented themselves as the half wound down, but they couldn't find any goals before heading to the locker room. Whatever the halftime speech was, it had an impact. Louisville came out in the second half and finished with nine shots to Miami's three. They had more shots on goal, more corners, and more possession. Basically, they did what I expected in the whole game. The newfound effort was rewarded right away, when Louisville scored off of a corner kick in the first minute of the second half. Hayley Howard picked up the goal, her second of the year, with Maisie Whitsett and Hernandez grabbing assist credits.

After the goal, Louisville kept the pressure on, but as the time ticked away, I wondered if the two goal deficit would just be too much on this particular night. Those fears were wiped away inside of the ten minutes to go mark when a foul in the box gave them a penalty (I thought this was their third good shout for one but it was the only one awarded). Hernandez stepped calmly to the spot, ready to complete her personal comeback, and knocked it home to the keeper's right. It was 2-2 with seven and change to go. The last couple of minutes were frantic, with Louisville firing off a few more shots and then having to defend two last second corners, but they ultimately moved to OT. 

The first overtime wasn't terribly eventful. Miami had an off target shot and Louisville earned a corner that went to nothing, but both teams were still trying to feel each other out. In college OT, both teams want to win, but neither wants to be the aggressor that makes a mistake and gives up a countering goal. The most exciting part about the first OT period was that Miami's on site scoreboard randomly malfunctioned prior to kickoff, leading the referee to start the period while keeping time on his own. Since the on site scoreboard didn't work, the ACC Network feed was blind as well, so we had no idea how much time was left for the first five or so minutes. The SIDs were saved the statistical hassle of trying to figure out when the game ended by no one scoring during that time.

Once the teams switched ends, Louisville decided to go for it. They made four substitutions between periods, while Miami made none, giving them fresh legs. Those fresh legs came in handy, as the Cards consistently pressured in the offensive third. Pressure leads to mistakes, and the Canes made a desperation foul just outside the edge of the box, off to the side of the field. It's an awkward place for a free kick, but Miami made the interesting decision not to wall. Everyone crowded into the box as if for a corner, and Maisie Whitsett located her kick right into the middle of the chaos. Whether or not it was intended to be a shot is irrelevant, but it snuck its way through everyone and into the backside netting. Cards win 3-2.

After back-to-back exciting overtime matches, I'm sure Louisville is ready to play a normal game. They'll get six days of rest either way, as they will travel to Syracuse on Thursday for their next match. The Cards have never lost to the Orange, winning seven of the eight matchups, with a draw coming in 2012. The two didn't meet in 2016 or 2017 but Louisville has won every other year since joining the ACC. Thursday's edition of the multi-conference spanning rivalry will get underway at 6PM and should be covered on the ACCNX, though it isn't listed yet.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

I'm out this week as I have a morning wedding to attend, but Daryl finally returns to the booth, so the streak of four hosts continues. The gang will talk about the strong results over the past week for fall sports, particularly the big win over Kentucky. They'll also cover the next big test for the VolleyCards as they take on Nebraska tonight in another top-15 matchup. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!

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