A season full of 'what ifs' came to a frustrating close yesterday for Louisville lacrosse. The Cards fell in the opening round of the ACC Tournament to Pitt, 13-10.
After allowing the Panthers to score the first two goals of the match, Nicole Perroni went on a 3-0 run by herself to give the Cards a one-goal advantage before Pitt evened the score to close out the first quarter.
The second quarter was rough. Louisville's offense failed to score the enter period while the defense struggled and allowed four goals.
A trio of Cards found the back of the net in the third quarter while only allowing two goals to cut their deficit to 9-6.
A Perroni goal cut the score to 10-7 and a Caroline Blalock score made it 11-8, but Louisville wouldn't come within three until the final couple of minutes and ran out of time for a rally.
Perroni recorded a career-high five goals on the day. Caroline Blalock concluded her collegiate career with two goals. Allegra Catalano also scored two goals and Kylea Dobson added one.
J Pleck saw action in goal the entire match. She recorded seven saves to go along with 13 goals allowed.
For Louisville, a 7-11 season fell short of expectations. The Cards had four losses come by a one-goal deficit and lost a match by three goals and four goals each.
Scott Teeter's squad loses both Sarah Blalock and Caroline Blalock to graduation. Paige Richbourg, Hannah Morris, and Kirsten Parker are all listed as seniors, but all three still have the COVID-19 year of eligibility if they choose to elect to come back.
Student-Athlete Mental Health
One of the least talked about aspects of the life of a student-athlete is probably the darkest part- mental health. In the last few days, two schools have had to break the news of the loss of one of their student-athletes.
JMU softball player Lauren Bernett passed away a day after being named Conference Player of the Week. Wisconsin track star Sarah Schulze passed away on April 13. Both deaths were named as suicide for the cause of death.
Both deaths join a pair of other suicides since the beginning of March. Stanford women's soccer goalkeeper Katie Meyer passed away March 1. SUNY Binghamton University men's lacrosse goalie Robert Martin passed away on April 1.
Over the course of nine years from 2003-2012, the NCAA held a study through several doctors to follow the suicide rate among student-athletes. The original intent was to see if certain genders or sports had a higher suicide rate.
In the study, over 3,773,309 individual student-athletes were included. Of that, there were 477 deaths with 35 labeled as suicide. As anticipated, accidents and physical health related issues made up a majority of the 477 deaths.
The conclusion from the study was that the suicide rate in NCAA student-athletes was lower than that of a normal college student or the general public.
You can read a full released report of that study using this link - https://thecovidblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Athlete-suicide-study.pdf.
However, things change over time. And things have gotten worse. Another study by the NCAA early in the COVID-19 pandemic saw numbers get worse. One of the biggest results of the study was that the rates of reported mental health concerns was 1.5-2.0 times higher than that of pre-COVID-19 studies. As opposed to previous student, women athletes had more mental health concerns than men's athletes.
You can read a detailed report of that study using this link - https://ncaaorg.s3.amazonaws.com/research/other/2020/2021RES_NCAA-SA-Well-BeingSurveyPPT.pdf.
I know this isn't joyful or exciting, but it's something that needs to be addressed and talked about much more around the country. Student-athletes have to balance daily life, school, and sports, which for a young person still developing in their early career, can be overwhelming and draining. The increased pressure with expectations of performance on the field/court has only added fuel to the fire.
I'm not expert on the topic, but seeing signs of mental health related issues even of student-athletes at UofL is concerning.
Some might remember the passing of UofL cheerleader Dani Cogswell back during the summer of 2014. Her cause of death was due to a drug overdose with multiple drugs found in her system. Some of those drugs, although illegal, were considered to help with mental health issues such as anxiety.
There's many steps that need to be taken by both the NCAA and each school to help address the issue. One of those is providing resources to the student-athletes.
On A Lighter Note
To end on a lighter note, we will release the answer to the two women student-athletes that I had the pleasure of working with earlier this week. There were some great guesses but no one guessed correctly.
In the white shirt is Abby Baldridge of women's soccer. In the grey shirt is Paige Morningstar of volleyball. The two are roommates and have become good friends in their first year at Louisville. They wanted to get some photos together and I was happy to oblige.
One of the cool things about working with student-athletes outside of their sport is getting a chance to know them better and get their personalities. They are able to showcase their sense of fashion and relax more with it being a low pressure situation.
Both young women were a blast to work with!
Happy Thursday and Go Cards!