Soccer Rebounds from UNC Loss, Beats 'Cuse 3-0
After suffering their first loss of the season last Saturday night, the Louisville women's soccer team hit the road for the first time since the opening game of the season. This weekend, the Cards headed to the northeast to take on Syracuse and Boston College to open their conference road schedule. The Cards faced their first hiccup before ever stepping foot on the field in Syracuse. Thursday evening, prior to the scheduled 6PM kick, an e-mail was sent out explaining that the team was suffering from a team-wide illness and that the game would be postponed to Friday morning. Though Syracuse has struggled this year, a team full of players recovering from food poisoning (the presumed culprit) did not inspire a ton of confidence for a strong effort.
Louisville proved me wrong. The Cards rolled out the primary starting lineup, showing that even if everyone wasn't fully recovered, thy were certainly going to go for it. Delaney Snyder got Louisville into business with their first goal less than two minutes into the game. Louisville had taken control of the game early, already earning a free kick deep in the offensive third, but the goal came on a bit of buildup play, with a through ball finding Snyder just barely onside (she looked off to me but the camera angle wasn't good). Snyder dribbled across the top of the box and deftly sent a ground ball into the opposite side of the net. Cards led 1-0.
Later in the half, it was a pair of subs that played add on. Louisville subbed quite a bit yesterday, perhaps showing that not everyone was fully recovered from their illness the night before. In this moment, it was Maisie Whitsett and Corinne Dente doing work for the Cards. In a similar situation to Snyder's goal, Dente found herself getting behind on a through ball from Whitsett. Just like Snyder, she settled herself and found the back of the net. It was Dente's first career collegiate goal (news flash to the Syracuse announcers and the women's soccer twitter, a freshman's first goal of the season is going to be their first career goal), and I get the feeling it won't be the last.
Louisville's final goal came much later in the second half, as Emina Ekic was determined to restart her points streak. Prior to the North Carolina game, Ekic had scored a point in every game except for the Ohio State game. That's a pretty impressive streak, and as long as she is finding ways to affect the offense, Louisville will continue to earn opportunities. Ekic's goal in this one was unstoppable, as her 76th minute shot rose to the upper left corner and was completely out of reach. Ekic's ability to score, assist, and draw fouls is what makes her a Hermann Award watch list player and it's what drives this team. It may be a little early to look at that award list, but with just a month left in the regular season, it will be time for the list to shrink soon. Ekic affects the game in so many ways, including those that show up on the stat sheet, but for those recordable stats, Emina's best is probably points per game. With five goals and four assists through nine games, Ekic currently sits tied for 67th at 1.56 points per game. That mark happens to be tied for fifth in the conference. Ekic is not likely to appear at the top of the list nationally, but she's only a few points behind the top points earner in arguably the top conference in the country. She's doing alright.
Louisville is back in action with what is a quicker turnaround than normal due to the schedule shift. The Cards will take on Boston College tomorrow at noon in Chestnut Hill. The game, like most, will be available on ACC Network Extra. Tune in to see if the Cards can continue to get back to their winning ways and earn their way back to the top half of the conference table. The Cards and Eagles are currently tied at 3 points, with BC sitting at 8-1-1 on the season compared to Louisville's 8-1-0. It should be a good match.
Field Hockey is Huge After Half Against BC
Continuing their trend of playing teams right around the same time as soccer, Louisville field hockey was in Massachusetts yesterday to take on the Eagles of Boston College. The Cards currently find themselves ranked sixth, and since they were playing in a conference game, you can be sure they were in a ranked matchup. This time around, Boston College is ranked 17th, right on the fringe of what might make the tournament this season. In a road match against a tough team, Louisville showed a bit of fight, despite going down early.
The Cards actually made two comebacks in this game, trailing 1-0 for nearly 25 minutes and then 2-1 for just over two minutes. The two teams scored four combined goals in the third quarter in under five minutes, in what was a wild swing for the fans in the stadium. Louisville's goals came from Bethany Russ, already her 8th this year, Margot Lawn (3), and Madison Walsh (4). All three were goals scored by taking advantage of big opportunities. Russ scored on a reserve shot after her shot was illegally blocked. Lawn did what makes everyone happy by converting a corner. Her shot was technically not on the corner, but was a rebound after the initial corner attack. However, since it was all one play, I'm counting it. Finally, Walsh's goal was an open play goal, as she knocked in a goal after her shot was originally saved.
All three Louisville goals show different skill sets and different abilities to get on goal. A diverse scoring offense is key to not getting stymied by a strong team that can limit specific areas. Also important was the mental fortitude shown by Louisville to come back twice as I mentioned earlier. The Cards didn't give up throughout the first half, and put their halftime coaching to the test by getting a quick goal. After conceding quickly to trail again, a weaker team might get a bit deflated. Louisville instead scored a pair of goals in a pair of minutes to flip the script.
Louisville's defense should also get a shout. Giving up two goals is not great, but when your team scores three, your only job is to give up fewer than three. Remember that this was a road game against a good team, and one of the goals came on a corner which are always challenging to defend. Perhaps surprisingly, Hollyn Barr went the distance in goal for the Cards, earning one save to go with her two goals allowed. If this was the test to see if she would be taking a stranglehold on the goalkeeping position, I can't say she locked it down. We'll see if Sam Minrath sees her way back into the net soon.
Louisville remains on the road for their next match and, like women's soccer, they'll stay in the northeast. Field hockey will take on the Providence Friars tomorrow at 1PM. This one won't be on ACCNX, but there is a watch link listed that takes you to a video player. Not sure if it's free or paid, but be sure to tune in to watch another good Louisville team.
Volleyball Goes Five in Win Over NC State
For the second match in a row, the Louisville volleyball team needed a fifth set to secure a win, as they did so last night in L&N Federal Credit Union Arena over the Wolfpack of NC State. Like field hockey, volleyball earned their win with multiple comebacks, losing the first and third sets and getting strong victories in the second and fourth to force a decider.
After starting pretty hot, Louisville's hitting actually trailed off consistently through the third, fourth, and fifth sets. Fortunately for the Cards, so did NC State's. Louisville finished the match with a respectable, but not lovable, 0.254 hitting percentage compared to the Wolfpack's 0.150. The Cards earned more aces (5-4) and dominated in blocks, outblocking the Wolfpack 15-6. Anna Stevenson led the way on blocks, with 2 solo and 5 assisted. Emily Scott had a solo and five assists as well, and even Tori Dilfer got in on the block party with 5 assisted blocks. Dilfer also earned a career high in assists as she picked up 54 of the team's 61 assists in the match.
Leading the way offensively was a familiar name, as Melanie McHenry crushed 29 kills on 61 attempts with just 8 errors for a cool 0.344. I'm thinking she's back. Aiko Jones and Emily Scott effectively tied McHenry as they picked up a combined 29 kills with 7 errors on 68 attempts with 0.308 and 0.345 hitting percentages, respectively.
Though perhaps not the cleanest win for the Cards against a struggling NC State team that is now 5-8 on the season, no one can complain about a victory in the conference opener. Louisville will have their hands full as they try to keep pace with Pittsburgh and Florida State in the title race, and every win counts. The Cards will be back in action, just like everyone else, tomorrow at 1PM against North Carolina. This match is at home, so if you can make it out, head on over to the Arena Formerly Known as Cardinal. As a home match, it will also be available on ACC Network Extra.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We're back in the studio once more for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour this week. Jared is banking and Daryl wants to get to Louder than Life when the gates open, so Paulie, Jeff, and I will man the mics. Jeff may be there in name only, though, as he fights voice issues, and I'll try not to sound like a frog after the first night of LtL yesterday. We'll have plenty of game action throughout the week to talk about as well as important women's basketball news to cover. Tune in to WCHQ FM at 11 AM to listen along. WCHQ is available at 100.9FM, the WCHQ App, wchqfm.com, or on Facebook Live.
Until next time, Go Cards!