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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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!