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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Cardinal Couple - Lacrosse Edition

Lacrosse gets an NCAA bid

The NCAA tournament brackets for Lacrosse were unveiled Sunday night, and UofL received an at-large bid.  The Cards will face some familiar foes in the 1st and potentially 2nd rounds.  The tournament starts for the Lax team with 8 seed Northwestern.  This is a rematch with the team that eliminated them from the tournament last year, in an 11-8 contest.  The Cards also played Northwestern this year up in Evanston, IL and lost in a close contest, 12-10.

Last year's loss came less than 36 hours on the heels of a gutty double-overtime win over Ohio State.  This year, if the Cards can get by Northwestern, they will potentially face...Ohio State.  Louisville and OSU haven't played this year, but last year did provide adequate evidence of how closely matched these two teams were.  In addition to the aforementioned double-OT loss in the tournament, these teams tangled in the regular season with OSU coming out victorious despite a late game comeback by the Red and Black.

The other potential 2nd round opponent is Notre Dame. Again, as is seemingly the case in many sports, the Louisville and Notre Dame Lax teams have a tendency to play some very close games.  The meeting between the two teams two years ago resulted in a double-overtime loss for the Cards.  Last year, in non-conference play, Notre Dame erased a first half Cardinal lead to take the game 12-9. This year, reunited in conference play, Louisville takes the win 10-8 in South Bend.

Should the Cards win in the 2nd round, perennial juggernaut Maryland will likely await.  After a 1st round bye, they will face either Jacksonville or UMass.  UMass is "also receiving votes" in the rankings, and Jacksonville got into the tournament on an automatic bid from winning the Atlantic Sun conference.  Neither is likely to present much of a threat to Maryland.

Seven of the eight women's lacrosse playing ACC schools got bids to the NCAA tournament.  Of the other seeded teams, only one isn't an ACC team (Stoney Brook as the 6 seed in the region with 3 seed Duke).  In current rankings, UNC, Syracuse, BC, and Duke are in spots 2-5, Virginia is 8th, Notre dame is 12th and Louisville is 18th with only Virginia Tech being absent from the rankings and tournament from the ACC.

The question that seems to be floating in the air is how Louisville will do without Faye Brust.  To my knowledge, there hasn't been any new information from the Louisville Lax program concerning Brust's return.  The initial report after the North Carolina game where she injured her knee was that they were going to let the swelling subside for a couple of weeks and evaluate whether she would be able to play.  With a diagnosis of a torn ACL, I think her chances of a return are slim at best.  Last year GK Ashley Herbst played in a few late season games with a torn ACL, but as GK, much less mobility and pressure is needed on the knee, and even with a more stationary position, she clearly wasn't able to play at 100%.  An attacker, such as Brust, will need much more stability, and strength from her knee to play than a goalkeeper would.

So, with 5 games post-Faye, let's look at a few stats.  Brust tore her ACL very early in the game against UNC, and while she played briefly in the 2nd half of the game, she wasn't a factor, so I'm starting the post-Faye period with the UNC game.  First off, our overall record was much better with Faye than without. 9-3 vs 1-4. 

Though, to be fair, the conference schedule...and the ACC is an absolutely brutal Lacrosse conference as we've talked about before numerous heavily weighted towards the late season, so much of that record disparity can be chalked up to conference vs non-conference scheduling.

So who steps up to replace Brust's scoring?  The Real Joe Hill suggested in a comment yesterday that it would be Hannah Koloski.  Unfortunately, it looks like her scoring production hasn't changed all that much since the North Carolina game.  She was scoring at 3.25 points per game (ppg) before UNC, and 2.2 ppg for UNC and later.  That's roughly consistent with her ppg numbers for wins and for loses overall 3.5 for wins, 2.15 for loses.  Looking at wins and loses before and after the UNC game results in similar numbers as well. 3.5 in wins before UNC, 2.3 in loses before UNC; 3 in wins since UNC, and 2 ppg in loses since UNC.  So, basically, when Hannah does well, Louisville does well, but it doesn't appear that Brust being out of the lineup has had any affect on her play, though we have to keep in mind that the sample sizes here for all of these stats is pretty small.

Another player I thought might make an impact without Brust on the field is Anna Kopecka, a redshirt senior from Prague.  The stats for her play are a little trickier since she didn't play in the first 7 games.  What the numbers do show in general is improvement over the year.  Counting only games in which she played, the Czech scored .4 ppg before the UNC game, and 1.2 ppg since.  It also looks like Louisville does worse when Kopecka scores more, though with her play improving in the later part of the season when the team was taking more of the loses, let's not put too much stock in that.  She has .6 ppg in wins, and 1 ppg in loses.  Before the UNC game the numbers look a little better, with 1 ppg in wins, and 0 ppg in loses.  After Brust's departure, however, the numbers flip again, with 1 point in the win over Notre Dame, and 1.25 ppg in the other four games which were losses.  Again, we're talking very small sample sizes, here.

What appears to be the best barometer for Louisville wins that I could find is the production from Kaylin Morissette. Besides her draw control prowess, which is a big advantage for Louisville, Kaylin can, at times, score in bunches.  In the season, before the UNC game, Morissette was scoring at a 3.1 ppg clip, dropping to only 1 once the UNC game started. 

In Louisville wins, Morissette had 3.1 ppg, with only 1.6 in loses.  What may be at play here is that without Brust in the game, opponents are able to key on Morissette more as the difference in wins and loses with Brust playing was considerably smaller than after her injury. Morissette had 3.2 ppg in wins before the UNC game, and 2.7 ppg after.  In the other five games, Kay had 2 ppg in the win, and only .75 ppg in the four loses.

So looking at the numbers, it looks like Kaylin is the key to Louisville winning.  I haven't done an exhaustive analysis of all of the players, and I was only looking at scoring, not other factors such as assists, ground balls, or turnovers.

Regardless of what the numbers show, action will get underway Friday, at 4:30pm in Evanston, IL on Northwestern's home field.



  1. Cortnee Daley will also play an integral role in the Cards post-regular season chances. Louisville has had a interesting pattern of playing teams very close this season in the first half but going into an offensive funk while opponents roll up several goals in a row to take or build on a lead.

    Yes, this has happened primarily against ACC foes and the ACC is the premier, numero uno Lacrosse conference. Against Northwestern, it happened also...the Cards scoring several times late to get back within two goals. The Cards will need to find a way to keep offensive momentum in place for 60 minutes to move on to the next round.


  2. Lacrosse went 2-5 against "the strongest conference in women's college Lacrosse" Is this about what was expected with the entry to the ACC?

    Blue Lou

    1. Honestly, yes, its about what I expected. Pre-season we were picked to be 7 of the 8 teams.

      My hope for the Lax conference schedule this year was that we'd have competitive games, which by and large we did, so I'm happy with our conference play.

      This is still a young program overall, and the improvement each year, in the past few years, is visible and distinct.

      I think our Lacrosse program is in a good place.

  3. No mention of Asia Durr winning USA 3-on-3 title? You guys are slipping...

    1. We try to place articles as best we can. Worldwide writes on Tuesdyas and he has free reigh on the subject matter. I will do the Wednesday article and had planned on making mention of it in that article.

      Abraham Lincoln is attributed as saying that 'you can please some of the people some of the time, all of the the people none of the time and none of the people that live in Lexington all of the time.' (Or maybe it was Matthew Mitchell who said it...I forget.)

      I would refer to the "room full of horse dung story" but the Preakness in 2 weeks away, so I'll wait.

      As far as is in the mid-80's here today. No chance of slipping.


    2. OK. I'll ask it. What is the horse dung story Paulie?

      The Real Joe Hill

    3. it is. A group of scientist decide to conduct an experiment which involves a room full of horse manure and three kids. They lead the first kid into the room, the little girl holds her nose and asks to leave. Same with the second kid. Little Johnny goes into the room, his eyes get wide and he starts flinging the manure around. The scientists ask him why he's doing that. He replies...

      "With all this horse poop in here, I bet there's a horse and I'm going to find him and ride him!"

      The experience and opportunity. It's up to the individual to interpret it.


    4. An oldie but a goodie. My Dad who has been gone now for many years regularly laid a lesson with a similar punchline to this on all of us kids. It actually worked too.

      Now whenever the chips are down and we're dealing with a "family problem" we always end with..."just keep shoveling...there's gotta be a pony in here somewhere".

      Kinda along the lines of "you only lose if you quit". Keep looking for a solution, if your motives are honest it will come to you in due time.

  4. I was not aware of Durr winning the three-on-three. I know she won the McD All-American 3 pt shooting contest.

  5. Asia was picked to compete on one of eight teams, starting August 27.

    1. Actually, they start play in Hungary for the World Championships in early June.



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