CRYSTAL BALL TIME
As we get ready...to roll into 2019, let's pay our final respects to 2018 first. A very eventful year, some good, some bad for Louisville Athletics as a whole. On the women's side of the ledger, we'll remember the trip to Columbus and Final Four appearance for Louisville WBB. We'll remember "the uncalled foul" for a long time. Walz's squad also beat Kentucky in The KFC YUM! Center and the mighty Irish in 2018 twice...felling the National Champions at home and in Greensboro.
We saw improvements in women's soccer, a Volleyball squad that went to the NCAA Tournament and the final season of the world's best Field Hockey goal-keeper. Lacrosse began the Scott Teeter era and said "Goodbye" to Sandy Pearsall.
Now, to the future! Paulie drags out his Crystal ball expert, Tarot card dealer and consults with noted psychics and foreseers to bring you...
THE WAY, WAY TOO EARLY 2019 PREDICTIONS
We'll predict the 2019 successes for six UofL women's athletics squads today. We spent a lot of time writing about these six sports-- women's basketball, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Soccer, Softball and Lacrosse in 2018 and we'll stumble boldly forth to predict how they'll do in 2019.
The Cards roar into 2019 and ACC play with the 12-0 record. They'll get to 14-0 before facing Notre Dame in South Bend on January 10th. Unfortunately, the crystal ball predicts a loss up in the Irish's Joyce Arena. The Cards will stumble two more times before ending the regular season -- In the KFC YUM! Center to UConn and at Virginia Tech on Feb. 10th.
Hoops will take a five game win streak and 25-3 record into the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.
The Cards, who I predict will be the #2 seed in the Tournament and #4 in the nation, will survive a couple of early tests in Friday and Saturday action before facing the Irish again in the ACC Tournament Championship game. On a neutral court, they take Notre Dame down and get the #1 seed in the Greensboro region of the NCAA Tournament. At home, they roll by a SWAC opponent and Kentucky at the YUM! and go to Greensboro where they down a strong Pac 12 opponent and, let's say, a strong Big 12 foe to advance to the Final Four in Tampa.
Old nemesis UConn awaits the Cards in the first Final Four game and Asia Durr wills the Cards to an upset victory! In the final game, the Cards get a rematch against Mississippi State and come out the winner! Hey, if you're going to dream, dream big.
With a new lineup for the most part, Dani Busboom Kelly leans on returning star Melanie McHenry early and the Cards have some bumps and bruises but emerge with a 10-2 record before starting ACC play. A loss to UK, unfortunately, again in that stretch...in Lexington. In a strong Atlantic Coast conference, the Cards take a few more defeats, let's say to Pitt, Miami, Syracuse and Notre Dame, but are a ranked, top #25 squad and make the NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately , they do not begin the NCAA quest at home, and get sent to Michigan, where they win a first round game and then surprise the Wolverines to get to face Nebraska. The Cornhuskers prevail in a five set match.
Holly Aprile installs "Holly-ball" in Ulmer Stadium, after the Cards return from a 14-game, classic and tournament road trip where they go 9-5. Pitching is strong and the hitters are responding to the new style and Louisville defeats Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Indiana in the "rival" games and goes into the ACC slate with a 18-9 record.
After competing in the tough ACC schedule, they travel to Tallahassee with a 38-17 (or so...no accounting for rain-outs) record for ACC Tournament play. The "pitch and hit" Cards have success in first round action against Duke before running into Fla. State. The 'Noles down the Cards to knock them out of the ACC Championships, but UofL gets an NCAA bid and gets sent to ONE OF THE MANY SEC powers to start the quest. Let's say Arkansas. And, in a couple of close ones, the Cards take the opening games and find themselves headed to Tennessee for the regional. Unfortunately, the Vols end an impressive first-year for Aprile.
Year two of Scott Teeter's career at Louisville begins and the Cards come out against the toughest schedule I've seen in quite some time for Louisville Lacrosse There are pluses and minuses and I'll predict LouLax finding themselves with a 5-5 mark after ten games. The brutal final five games of the regular season (at VT, UNC, OSU, at Virginia, at Boston College) produces two wins and the Cards head to the ACC Lacrosse Tournament at Boston College with a 7-8 record. After a upset win over UNC, they run into a strong BC squad and the season ends with a loss to the Eagles and a 8-9 record. No NCAA Tournament this year, but an improved season from 2018 and great hope and potential for 2020.
We haven't seen the 2019 schedule yet, but let's assume the Cards will have ten conference games and eight-non-conference before the ACC Tournament. Karen Ferguson Dayes returns a lot of experience players and has recruited well. The Cards knock off UK again and head into ACC play, let's predict, 6-2. Based on the 6-4 conference record last year, we'll predict Louisville goes one better and rolls through the ACC slate with a 7-3 showing. At 13-5 (or so, once again, we haven't seen the schedule) they go to the ACC Tournament and get a win over N.C.State before falling to UNC in the semifinals.
14-6 definitely gets them into the NCAA Tournament and Louisville travels to Vanderbilt where they take down the Commodores before taking a loss in a rematch against Virginia.
The Cards come out with a few questions in 2019 after not getting an NCAA bid last year and without their all-World goalie Ayeshia McFerran. We don't know the slate of games yet, but we're hoping they respond well and take six out of their first seven. They go through an ACC schedule with two losses to UNC and Duke. At 15-3, they enter the ACC Tournament as the #3 seed and defeat Boston College before falling to UNC.
No doubt about an NCAA bid in 2019. The Cards host and defeat Boston University before travelling to Princeton. A close loss to the Tigers ends a very successful 2019 Field Hockey season at 17-5.
SHOULD OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT....
We hope you've enjoyed this "look into the future". I'll come back and look at the predictions as each sport progresses throughout their schedules. Wouldn't it be hilarious if any of them absolutely accurate?
If you've got a light day today and want to sound off on these predictions, anything about 2018 or just stuff in general, hit us up in the comments section.
In closing, we've had a fun and interesting year at Cardinal Couple and The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. I definitely want to thank you, the readers and listeners, for providing the motivation to continue and get better at what we do. A special "thank you" to radio guests Mike Gilpatrick, Daryl Foust, Paige Sherrard...a salute to David Watson for filling in whenever I asked him to here at the site, and...to "behind-the-scenes Sonya"... my undying admiration and love.
My hat (or toboggan or beanie) is off to the knuckleheads who dance this dance with me here and on WCHQ...Worldwide Jeff, Case and Jared. Y'all special !! Love ya !!
You guys and gals are the greatest!
If you choose to participate in "Amateur Night" tonight in the bars or taverns, please be responsible and don't hit the road hammered. If you're hosting a party or going to a party...have fun, but don't let any of your guests drive after drinking or attempting to navigate home under the influence. Make sure a sober person is behind the wheel, or...what's a small cab, Uber of Lyft fee compared to seeing you or a friend get locked up or maybe losing them?
Have a Happy New Year and we wish the best for you, and all our Cardinal squads in 2019!