Jared Picks the Outcomes for the Fall Sports
EDITOR'S NOTE: WHO CAN FORGET JARED'S BOLD PREDICTION IN 2017 THAT "MINNIE " MINK WOULD AVERAGE 2 GOALS PER GAME LAST YEAR FOR LOUISVILLE FIELD HOCKEY? WHEN SHE FELL A BIT SHORT OF THIS, SHE DECIDED TO GO BACK TO THE NETHERLANDS AND SEE IF SHE COULD FULFILL JARED'S WISH THERE.
from a sub .500 record Louisville managed to stun just about everyone when they claimed the ACC title. Well, actually they split the regular season title with Pittsburgh, but had the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The 24 wins was the second-most in the last five years, one behind the 2015 season. Their 18-2 conference mark was par with the 2015 ACC Championship year. Sadly, the Cards bowed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when they were swept by Northern Iowa.
Six players either graduated or transferred following the conclusion of the season with three of them playing a key role. Coach Kelly has some big shoes to fill on the front line. There are some returners that have a good chance to step into that role as well as the newbies that are joining Louisville in the fall.
ACC play doesn't get any easier. UofL will play at NC State and at Pittsburgh this year, two of the Top 4 teams from last year. Miami and Florida State- third and sixth from last year- will visit Cardinal Arena. Louisville lucks out and plays four of the top teams in the conference last year once and will face most of the bottom half twice throughout the season.
My prediction: 22-7, 15-3 ACC
The road/neutral site matches against USC, Purdue, and Florida will damage the Cards early on.
Kentucky will continue their dominance over Louisville in volleyball. NC State and Pitt will get revenge on their home courts from last year and Notre Dame will sneak away with a win at home late in the season. However, the Cards will remain undefeated at home during conference play and will only falter in Cardinal Arena once- a five-set battle vs the Wildcats. Their 15-3 conference mark will be just shy of taking the conference title, but they'll earn a bid to the Big Dance where they will fall in round one.
Louisville has never seemed to make it over the hump since joining the ACC, where the soccer world is split between us and the Pac-12. In order to find the success they have lacked lately they'll need to find ways to earn three points in more outings in the conference.
Kentucky is the big name on the list when looking at non-conference matches. A messy, rainy night may have helped the Cards earn a fluke win last year in a sport where the Wildcats have had the Cards number. The non-conference schedule is weak. No non-conference opponents finished the season ranked in the Top 50 last year. Louisville finished 74th, by the way. Remember when they broke the Top 25 after starting 5-1 last year?
Once ACC play hits things have the potential to crash and burn, but Louisville's talent also has another year of experience under their belts, or boots. Having to visit every ACC opponent in the state of North Carolina, who also happen to hold four of the top five spots from last season, is brutal to have on the schedule for any team. They should still be able to snuff out some wins at home and possibly one or two on the road.
My prediction: 8-6-3, 3-5-2 ACC
Things will look great in the first half of the season as things are smooth. Karen Ferguson-Dayes will have her team scratching their way to the Top 25 after a half dozen games. The rivalry match-up and a road trip or two could cause some minor bumps but fans will have that early season hope again. When conference play hits the good will halt. A few key losses from last year's team will begin to show as the players to fill the void cannot keep up with the level of play in the ACC. Final Four team Duke and their buddies a few miles down the road are both on another level when it comes to collegiate soccer and we won't see another 2015 Thursday night shocker. Louisville just isn't ready for the ACC in soccer and they will need a couple more years to adjust.
Last season's top scorer has gone back home to Europe but Justine Sowry believes their are plenty of players ready to fill the void. Having Ireland's top goalkeeper healthy and back in action will take pressure off of the defense and the Cards can focus more on an aggressive style of play.
Coach Sowry loves to play an intense non-conference schedule that includes teams like Delaware, Northwestern, California, and Miami (OH). You could include Michigan too but they are just an exhibition.
ACC play will not be kind. Six of the seven ACC teams found themselves in the 18-team NCAA Tournament. That's one-third of the bracket for you mathematicians. The six-game conference schedule is split in half in terms of road and home games. In ACC field hockey anyone can win at any location.
My Prediction: 11-5, 4-2 ACC
It will be a slight drop from the 2017 season, but still one to keep the Cards ranked and in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville stunned then-reigning champ Delaware last season and the Blue Hens are out for revenge. UofL lost to Northwestern twice last year and they are the only Wildcats on the schedule this year so they will find a way to take down the flock in the red and black. Duke will be playing with the ACC semifinal in the back of their minds when they come to visit and won't be playing nice. North Carolina is the best candidate in the conference to take national championship this year and will stop at nothing to get there. Sowry's squad is used to tough opponents and can play with anyone in the country and will pull out some hard-fought wins. Expect to see them make it to the ACC semifinals at least and even win their first round game in the NCAA Tournament.
Injuries, freshman development, star-player performance -- all of these can come into play over the course of a season. No way of knowing any of this in advance. The ACC is tough but the Cards will give it all they've got for these three stellar coaches.
What Day Is It?
purveyor place you like and treat yourself or a friend to one (or more) of those decadent, delicious treats. Afterwards, why not hit an amusement park for a up and down trip? It's also national Carousel Day. If you have a sensitive stomach, feel free to reverse the order on these.
Happy Wednesday and Go Cards!
- Jared -