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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cards Take Lumps on Friday -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Louisville FH Falls at #4 Duke, 5-0

After a tough road loss against Maryland on Sunday, I'm sure Justine Sowry was expecting a bit of a bounce back when the Cardinal Field Hockey team opened conference play in Durham last night. What they got was a systematic dismantling at the hands of a very good Blue Devil squad. Duke scored early and often, opening the scoreline 4 minutes into the game and finishing with five goals. Louisville was completely outmatched, allowing 10 Duke shots IN EACH HALF and amassing only 2 of their own in the entire game. 

I watched this one on my phone until Duke put the second goal in the net with less than 9 minutes gone in the game. They had complete control for the most part, and Louisville just didn't look the part. The defense was slow to cover, Duke players were finding space and attacking free balls, the offense couldn't hit crisp passes, and overall Louisville seemed more like a bunch of bodies than a top FH team in the nation. Ayeisha McFerran returned to the goal for the second game in a row and played all 70 minutes. She was tagged with 5 goals but saved 6, including a spectacular diving save when the score was 1-0. However, as I said, Louisville's defense looked slow. After the amazing save, the ball bounced no more than 3-4 feet from McFerran but the nearest Cardinal was nowhere in sight. Duke pounced on the opportunity and sent their second goal over a sprawling keeper. McFerran looked good from what I saw, despite the two goals I saw her give up. On the first, it was a surprise back hand that she was able to get the blocker to, but unfortunately the ball hit just inside the crossbar instead of going over the goal.

As far as penalty corners go, at least Louisville defended them well. Duke scored on only 1 of their 4 opportunities, which says not great things about Louisville's open field defense in last night's game. Louisville was 0-2 on corner opportunities, something you could have likely deduced yourself based on their whopping zero goals in the loss. 

The true road game issues continue for Louisville this season, and they'll hope to figure them out soon. The Cards still have a game at #14 Northwestern before they return to the friendly confines of Trager Stadium. We've made a lot of to-do about my women's soccer prediction, but my "no more than 4 losses" prediction for field hockey is in dire straits now as the team fell to 4-3 last night. Hopefully, Coach Sowry can identify some of the issues the Cards are facing and salvage the season with some quick fixes. There are still plenty of games to be played, but the tournament invitations are slim, and Louisville could find themselves on the outside looking in if they can't right the ship on the road. Louisville takes on Northwestern on the 19th at 4PM. Expect to pay for Big Ten Plus if you want to catch this one.

VB Cards Fall 3-0 to Cats

Photo by Jared Anderson
UK evened the overall rivalry series for this year at 1-1-1 in the major team sports and we'll be stuck there until after Turkey Day when Lamar Jackson and company head to the new "Kroger Field." Louisville was unable to overcome a raucous Memorial Coliseum crowd and a bad hitting night as they were swept by the rival Wildcats. While you would always like to see Louisville beat Kentucky, there is no shame in losing to the number 12 team in the country on the road. There may be some shame to be found, though, in hitting -0.094 in the final game and losing 11-25. That's not great, boss. Louisville held with Kentucky in the first two games, losing 20-25 and 24-26. 

The Cards only hit 0.027 in the first game but were able to keep up with the Cats. Louisville actually outhit Kentucky in the second, .300-.250, but Kentucky got the important points when it mattered. UK never hit less than that .250 mark that came in the second game, which was killer for Louisville on a night that they hit poorly. Louisville finished the match with only 30 kills and 20 errors. That isn't going to win very many matches, but it is important to remember that this team is still growing and to not discredit a good Kentucky team. Wilma Rivera was easily the team MVP as she recorded 2 blocks, 18 assists, and 11 digs, leading the team in all three categories. She was tied for the lead in blocks by both Jasmine Bennett and Tess Clark. 

Photo by Jared Anderson
After a tough loss in which it looked as though the Cards might be able to take a game and change the complexion of the match, Louisville returns home to Cardinal Arena to lick their wounds with a match against Kennesaw State tomorrow at 3PM. I know at least a couple of fans that will be in attendance. Coach DBK will look to get the Cards' minds right and put this loss in the past. Louisville remains a plus .500 team with losses coming to ranked or should be ranked teams. The Cards might not completely turn it around this season, but the early returns of DBK's hiring have seemed promising.

Battle for the Atlantic

Louisville's return to the College GameDay scene is about to get underway. When you're reading this, it may have already happened. The important part isn't the pomp and circumstance, though. The important part is the reason the A-Team is even here: the game. Louisville hosts the Clemson Tigers tonight, hoping to finally earn their first win against the defending National Champions. Louisville has played Clemson close in all three meetings, falling just short in each. Bobby Petrino has had this one circled since the schedule came out. In fact, there's a non-zero chance that the reason Louisville hasn't looked it's best to this point is because they've been gameplanning for Clemson since the season started. Petrino doesn't want to lose this game. Lamar Jackson doesn't want to lose this game. I'm quite sure the entire team wants to win this game and put all of the doubters behind them. Louisville fell apart after the heartbreaker in Death Valley last season. Revenge should do wonders for their psyche for the rest of this season. Another gut-wrenching loss could be catastrophic.

Picture via Twitter @Drew_Deener
This game is about more than just vengeance. With Florida State becoming the wounded gazelle in the Atlantic division race after losing Deondre Francois, Louisville's hopes for a division title are better than ever. The game in Tallahassee doesn't just look marginally winnable, it looks like a game in which Louisville could even be favored at kickoff. But it starts today. The winner of today's game is in the driver's seat. A win today not only puts Louisville in the top-10 conversation, it sets them up to hang onto the the division crown. The ESPN commercial for tonight's game points out everyone that is "IN" for tonight. Heisman winner: IN. National Champs: IN. 

I'm IN. Are you?

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Once you've gotten your fill of the GameDay guys in front of Grawemeyer Hall (which is a spectacular set backdrop by the way), come hang out with us on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour from 11-12. You can still have GameDay on to see who the guest picker is and find out whether Corso puts on a Louie head or that of Mike the Tiger (I will in studio), but don't be afraid to tune in to WCHQ and here us give love to the teams that don't get enough of it. We'll break down the field hockey and volleyball losses as well as give props to the women's soccer team for closing up non-conference play with a win. CCRH is on 100.9 FM WCHQ as well as the WCHQ app and the Crescent Hill Radio website. 

Until next time, Go Cards! Beat Clemson!

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