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Monday, April 24, 2023

Lacrosse Season Comes to a Close; Softball Sweeps -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Lacrosse Loses in Opening Round of ACC Tourney

After picking up their second conference win against Duke just over a week ago, Louisville found themselves seeded 8th in the conference tournament, ahead of both Duke and Pitt, the two teams they beat this season. Despite the worse overall record (Duke was 6-1 out of conference), Louisville hosted in the first round of the ACC tournament. Unfortunately, Duke was ready to get revenge for the close loss they suffered at the same stadium very recently. 

Duke got the scoring started early, and it looked for a bit like the Cards would be run off their own field. Duke scored the first three goals over seven and a half minutes, with the first coming less than two minutes into the contest. Negai Nakazawa finally put Louisville on the board with just over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter, but Duke answered to make it 4-1 a minute later. With just ten seconds left in the period, Hannah Morris scored her first goal of the game to cut the lead in half. 

Louisville opened the scoring in the second period, again with a goal from Negai Nakazawa. This time, Negai was assisted by her sister Kokoro and the Cards were within one. Duke was insistent on remaining up by a pair of goals, matching Nakazawa's second a minute later. Nicole Perroni got in on the action with 10:09 left in the half to bring Louisville back to one, and they played that way for a bit. Duke was able to extend their lead again before Hannah Morris went on a tear. With Louisville trailing 6-4, Morris rattled off three goals in a shade over three minutes to swing the advantage into Louisville's favor. Duke grabbed one more goal with 93 seconds left in the half, and the two teams entered the locker room tied.

It was the usual suspects for Louisville coming out of the break, as the first three and a half minutes saw Louisville go up by a pair on another Nakazawa double-feature to earn Negai the hat trick and a fifth goal from Morris. Duke remained focused, though, and they buckled down on defense. Louisville went five minutes before Allegra Catalano was able to score their tenth team goal of the game. In that time, Duke managed to score three of their own, with two coming just 14 seconds apart. The rest of the third quarter played tight, but neither team found the back of the net again. Just as they had started the third, they ended it tied.

To open the fourth, another Nakazawa goal found Louisville ahead by one. Kokoro was in charge this time, scoring her 22nd goal of the season. Unfortunately for Nakazawa and for Louisville, it was her (and the team's) last goal of the year. Duke tied it up with 8:43 remaining, and the rest of the game was agonizing for the Cards. After a yellow card put Louisville down a player, a second put the Cards down two with a minute left on the first penalty kill. Sara Addeche saved the free position shot created by the second foul (one of 16 saves in the complete game), but the pressure remained. Despite getting one player back on the field, Louisville played at a disadvantage for too long. Twenty seconds before the second penalty timed out, Duke scored to make it 12-11 with 3:54 remaining.

Louisville had their chances to tie it up once more, but it wasn't meant to be. A free position shot by Kokoro Nakazawa was saved while Negai had one shot go wide and another hit the post. It came down to a free position shot by Hannah Morris with ten seconds left. The attempt hit the post. It was Morris's only missed conversion of the game, and it's an extremely unfair way for her career to end. The graduate senior finishes her time at UofL with 138 goals and 19 assists in 74 games. She scored 43.3% of her shots and put 71.5% of her attempts on target.

Louisville's loss in the first round will put a cap on their season, as 5-12 will be unlikely to draw any attention for the NCAA tournament. Duke advances to the quarterfinals Wednesday to take on Boston College. We'll have plenty more to say about the lacrosse season as time goes on.

Softball Earns 9-2 Win in Finale at Virginia

After a bit of a barn-burner Saturday evening, Louisville left little doubt in their series finale in Charlottesville as they lumped the scoring on early to sweep the Cavaliers. Louisville used a mix of small ball and long shots to rack up the runs, and a couple of early Virginia runs were largely ignorable as the game went on. 

Korbe Otis got the game started off well for the Cards with a lead-off home run. Easton Lotus was first-pitch swinging after that and reached on an error. Taylor Roby singled Lotus all the way to third, and Virginia's starting pitcher found herself relieved of the ball. The new pitcher for the 'Hoos may have benefited from a bit more time warming up as she hit Sarah Gordon with the first pitch. Reaching scoring position with no outs saw Roby removed from the base paths with Mia Forsythe brought on to pinch run. The move paid off, as a Daisy Hess single scored two runs. With runners on second and third with nobody out, Louisville managed to score no more runs. So it goes sometimes. Louisville took a 3-0 lead into the bottom half.

Taylor Roby got the start again in this game and things started a bit less swimmingly for her than they did on Saturday. The first two batters singled, but Louisville halted their progress with a fielder's choice out at third to put runners on first and second with one out. Unfortunately, Roby immediately undermined the defense's efforts with a wild pitch to move both runners up. It came back to haunt her immediately, as a single scored both runners and the batter advanced on the throw to home. A ground out to first put the tying run at third base, and a full-count walk followed. Roby kept the lead alive by forcing a ground out to end the inning.

After Paige Geraghty grounded out to roll over the lineup, Otis picked up right where the top half of the order had left off in the first. She walked, and Lotus followed her with a single. Both advanced on a throwing error, and Roby helped get her runs back with a single to score Otis. Gordon was up next, and she singled as well. She and Roby both advanced an extra base as Virginia unsuccessfully attempted to throw out Easton Lotus at home. Another two-RBI single from Daisy Hess put Louisville up by five, but they would score no more in the inning. After a single and a fielder's choice that got no outs loaded the bases, a double-play ended the threat. A four spot left the Cards ahead 7-2. 

Virginia continued to put the bat on the ball against Roby. A single was followed by a come-backer right to Roby, who turned it into a double-play. Seeming to be out of a jam, she found herself right back in one with a single and a walk. Whether it was tiredness or Virginia having seen too much of her the night before, Coach Holly Aprile decided it was time for a change. Saturday's victor, Gabby Holloway, stepped into the circle and got a flyout to end the inning. 

With Otis batting for the third time in three innings, she couldn't keep the run going and Louisville quickly had two outs. Lotus kicked off a rally, though, and singled with two strikes. Roby walked, and Virginia made another pitching change before Sarah Gordon stepped in. This time, she elected to do the hitting instead of being hit by a new pitcher, and she singled up the middle to score Lotus. Daisy Hess stepped in and hit another single, this one deep enough to score Roby from second and give Hess her fifth RBI of the night. A ground out stranded a pair, but Louisville had extended their lead to 9-2. That would be the final. 

Duke managed to pick up just two hits and a walk off of Holloway over the next five innings, and they were all scattered. She earned four strikeouts and threw just 72 pitches over those five (it took her just two to get the final out of the second, bringing her total to 74). Louisville was similarly frustrated for the remainder of the game, though two of their three hits came in the same inning. The Cards were under a bit less pressure, though, playing with a seven-run lead instead of the inverse. Offensively, Louisville got perfect on-base nights from both Taylor Roby and Daisy Hess, with the pair combining for half of the team's 14 hits and two-thirds of its RBIs. 

Last night's win moved Louisville to 32-14 overall and 13-4 in the ACC. Despite some of the early losses (and some of the headscratchers later), Louisville has played quite well this season. The Cards are now 4-2 in conference series and have moved into third ahead of Duke based on win percentage. Louisville has played a series less than most teams in the league and one game less than Florida State due to the canceled game at Syracuse. Louisville has also scored just one run less than FSU and is just five behind the co-leaders in conference runs scored, Duke and Notre Dame, who have both played five more games than the Cards. The defense has been better than you might expect as well, with Louisville having given up fewer runs than everyone but FSU, Clemson, and UNC. That comes with a grain of salt, though, as the fewer games is definitely playing a part.

The Cards have the bookends of the conference remaining this season. They'll return to Ulmer to round out the home schedule with a series against last-in-the-league Boston College this weekend. On Derby weekend, as they usually do, they'll hit the road. Top-seeded FSU awaits, and Louisville will have a big chance to score some NCAA attention on that first weekend in May. A sweep of Boston College and at least one win against the Seminoles would be ideal, but they'll have to take it one game at a time.

Until next time, Go Cards!

1 comment:

  1. Didn't Cardinal Couple have a writer at the Lax match? A tough loss for Scott Teeter's squad.

    Nick O


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