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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Cards See Three NCAA Advancements; Volleyball Sweeps -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

                   *** BREAKING NEWS***


Field Hockey Comes Back to Beat Michigan

In the first event of what was a busy day on Floyd Street, Justine Sowry's field hockey team got underway at Noon against the Michigan Wolverines. Coming into the game, Louisville was 5-0 against Big Ten opponents, but they had not yet played Michigan. The Wolverines finished the regular season at 13-5 before losing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to Iowa. That set up yesterday's matchup with the Cards, and Michigan seemed quite up to the task. 

In the first quarter, and for much of the game, Michigan seemed able to control the ball at will and play solid defense when Louisville got their chances. The Wolverines consistently held Louisville out of the circle with timely stick checks and intercepted passes. To their credit, Louisville also prevented Michigan from getting much of anything going offensively in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the one chance Michigan had, they took. With just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Meg Dowthwaite got free after a Katie Anderson pass and knocked in her eighth goal of the season. It was the only shot by either team in the quarter and it was on frame and in the cage.

Fewer than five game minutes later, Louisville got what appeared to be the equalizer. On a penalty corner, Bethany Russ deftly worked herself open before firing a shot that sailed into the net. The referees initially called a goal, but many Michigan players could be seen exclaiming about the height of the ball. Michigan's coach initiated a video referral and the review process began. The officials went to the monitor for nearly six minutes before coming out to have a conversation with the two coaches. They could be heard explaining that the shot was high and would be ruled a dangerous ball. Michigan's coach seemed pleased and walked away. Justine Sowry did not. After about 30 seconds of heated discussion, the officials returned to the review monitor for another six or seven minutes. We don't know what Coach Sowry said that made them continue their review, but it was ultimately to no avail. The goal was overturned. Michigan still led 1-0. The Cards continued to pressure in the second quarter, garnering three shots, but were unable to put any on frame. The halftime horn sounded with Louisville still behind a goal.

The third quarter was the busiest for both teams by far, with five total shots coming in that quarter. The quarter saw Hollyn Barr make an outstanding save to keep Louisville in the game and Bethany Russ refuse to be denied in her quest for an equalizer. After Louisville earned a penalty corner, Mercedes Pastor worked to get a shot that was blocked by a defender. Russ got ahold of the ball and used some impressive stick play to work just enough space to fire a shot into the back of the catch. The clank was unmistakable and Louisville had tied the match with two minutes to go in the third.

The fourth quarter and both overtimes required Barr to be nails. In those final 33 minutes, Barr picked up five saves. She had just one in the opening 45 minutes. While Michigan's offense peppered Barr, Louisville offense kept up the pressure as well. The Cards didn't have any shots in the fourth quarter, but they did have four in the 18 total minutes of overtime, including three on goal. Michigan's goalie was able to protect two shots in the first overtime, but with just under two minutes until a penalty shootout, Bethany Russ once more found the back of the cage. A crossing assist from Emilia Kaczmarczyk found Russ at the left side of the circle where she fired it home. Louisville won 2-1 on the golden goal and advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament. 

All in all, it was a great game from the Cards. Coach Sowry discussed how they were able to stick to their game plan and execute when it mattered. Both teams had five corners. Louisville was able to stop Michigan from scoring on any of them. While the stat sheet doesn't technically say it, the Cards were successful on two of their five. Though one was disallowed and another was on a second effort, those are still better opportunities than Louisville has been getting throughout the season and this is an important time to clean up mistakes.

Cards Supporting Cards. Representatives from softball,
swimming/diving, golf, and lacrosse braved the cold.
Louisville will host the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 1:00 PM. Boston College will come to town, likely looking for revenge. The Cards handed the Eagles a home loss when they played in the regular season, winning 3-2 in Chestnut Hill. Every game is a new day in the tournament, though, and Louisville will look to keep rolling into the next round.

Coach Sowry's interview apparently didn't make it to the screen, but a link to the transcript can be found here.  Paulie did catch the jumbled audio of Sowry's words and tou can hear them HERE.

It wasn't the most prepared or best set up scenario for NCAA post-game comments. 

Bethany Russ got podium time also time, which you can watch at this link or read the transcript if you prefer.

Soccer Ends Two Game Losing Streak at Perfect Time

The Cards ended their season with a pair of matches against NC State. The Wolfpack won both of those, sending Louisville into the NCAA Tournament with some confidence to rebuild. The Cards were able to do so last night, dominating possession of the ball on their way to a 1-0 win against the Lipscomb Bisons. Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes noted in her post-game comments that she believed the possession was one thing Louisville could have done better on, but I believe Lipscomb's counter attacking ability was skewing her view of that stat. Louisville held possession for 71% of the first half and 64% for the entire game. 

Louisville's game plan in this match was pretty simple, and matched the rest of the season: sit on the ball, work possession through the midfield, and get chances on goal. Lipscomb's game plan was equally simple: disrupt the Louisville attack, win the ball, and counter. Had the Bison strikers been able to stay onsides for the life of them, we could be having a very different conversation this morning. After being called offsides 11 times in their last game, Lipscomb was called for four in the first half of last night's match. In each one, the Cards were beaten and Lipscomb either had a one-on-one opportunity or were poised for a very dangerous cross. On two, Lipscomb attempted shots after the whistle. On both of those, Gabby Kouzelos refused to get the ball out of the back of the net and made a pair of saves that don't go in the stat sheet. In scoreless games, seeing the ball in the back of the net can do things for both the offense and defense. Kouzelos refused to lose that psychological matchup.

As Louisville held possession, they also gathered a lot of chances. Fortunately for Lipscomb, Melissa Gray was up to the task. Gray had five saves in the first half, and would go on to finish with eight on the night. A couple of those first half saves were real beauties. However, all it took in this game was one chance, and Sarah Hernandez took that chance. Finishing her third goal of the season, all three on headers, Hernandez took flight Superwoman style to get to a perfectly placed free kick by Emina Ekic. Gray was caught out just a bit and the ball found the back of the net with 34 seconds remaining in the first half. Louisville finished the first half with 10 shots and six on frame, showing that they intended to keep beating on the door until they broke it down.

The second half saw quite a bit of the same. Louisville continued to earn chances much as they had in the first half. The Cards got five corners in the second half and ultimately put up seven shots. Though only three were on frame, the pressure was evident and the six shots off of the frame of the goal were close. As Coach Ferguson-Dayes mentioned in her postgame comments, Gray's play in the first half affected Louisville's shots in the second, putting more pressure on the Cards to be fine with their placement and ultimately leading to misses. 

Gabby Kouzelos maintained her staunch defense in the back, assisted of course by the back line. Lipscomb only finished with three shots and Kouzelos with two saves, but the defense saw quite a bit more work than the stats imply. Hernandez and Niamh Nelson both saw plenty of chances to clear crosses, through balls, and overhead balls, and they were up to the task last night. Kouzelos even got quite a bit more work than the box score shows, having to come all the way out of her box to win jousts at least three times and gathering a number of searching balls into the box by Lipscomb. Louisville picked up their tenth clean sheet on the way to this win.
After the match, the two teams gathered in a show
of sportsmanship.
Louisville's path gets harder from here. Their quadrant has seen nothing but chalk so far, as BYU, Arkansas, and NC State advanced last night. The second and third rounds will be held next weekend at the home site of the highest seed in the quadrant. In this case, the teams will travel to Provo, Utah, where Louisville will take on the Cougars of BYU. More information will be available as the first round ends across the tournament.

Hear the press conference style interview with Coach KFD, Emina Ekic, Sarah Hernandez, and Brooklynn Rivers here.

Ivine Chemutai Advances in NCAA Cross Country

Yesterday, Louisville cross country was in Charlottesville, Virginia to compete in the NCAA Southeastern Regional. The Cards did not have a ton of success in the regional, but there was some good news to come out of it. Sophomore runner Ivine Chemutai finished in 8th place in the women's 6K race, which was good enough for an automatic qualification in the NCAA Championship meet. No other Louisville runners qualified. Chemutai finished just thirty seconds off the pace of the winner and just 17 seconds behind third place. She was clear of 11th place, the non-AQ position, by 10 seconds. The National Championship meet will be held on November 23rd in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Volleyball Sweeps Syracuse in Return Match 

Louisville Volleyball has been reeling a bit since the loss of Melanie McHenry. Since McHenry went down in the Notre Dame match, and excluding that match, Louisville was 2-5. They quickly fell out of the chase for the ACC title and have since dropped behind five other teams that are tied for second. A benefit for the Cards in this situation is that they haven't given up. They're playing without McHenry, who happens to be the only senior on the team, meaning that the current iteration of Louisville volleyball is just getting additional practice time for next year. From now on, Louisville's priorities change a little bit. While the goals early in the season included a conference victory and potentially making a lot of noise in the NCAA Tournament, the Cards now need to focus on keeping their feet under them and building confidence going into next year. 

That started last night when Louisville completed a sweep in their first match of the final home stand of the year. The match was a revenge game against Syracuse, who beat the Cards in five sets in New York earlier this month. Louisville hit no worse than .280 in the three sets and held the Orange to .000 hitting for the match, despite having only five blocks. Louisville committed only 15 errors in the match and had a relatively low seven service errors. I know that's not a low number of service errors but the Cards have committed plenty more this season. Syracuse kept the first set close at 25-19 but the Cards did what they needed to and dominated the final two sets at 25-15 each. 

Amber Stivrins and Claire Chaussee led the way for the Cards in this one, both finishing with 10 kills. Chaussee even took an unusual lead from Aiko Jones in total attempts with 25 compared to Jones's 23. The two also added just six errors, and Stivrins finished with an outstanding .571 hitting percentage. Jones was a bit off on the night, finishing with just six kills and five errors, but she did add an ace, two assists, and three blocks to contribute to the cause. For the first time in awhile, we saw both Tori Dilfer and Shannon Shields in the same sets, though Shields finished with just one service error in the stat sheet. Dilfer appears to have taken at least a noticeable lead in the setter race as she has finished with the lion's share of the assists recently. 

Louisville will have two more home matches this season, both against teams they have defeated this year. The first will come against Notre Dame when the Irish come to town next Friday for a 7:00 PM matchup. Notre Dame will surely be looking for revenge for the five set loss Louisville handed them in South Bend, but the Cards need to keep their momentum rolling towards the end of the year. Head on down to L&N FCU Arena Friday to root on the Cards. 

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

In case you couldn't tell, we'll have plenty to talk about this week on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. This week, Paulie, Jeff, and I will be joined in the studio by Daryl Foust. We'll talk all of the fall sports action that is still ongoing thanks to yesterday's victories and bring in basketball as it ramps up. The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour is still brought to you by WCHQ. Tune in at 11:00 AM to 100.9 FM, the WCHQ App,, or on Facebook Live.

Until next time, Go Cards!


  1. Great day to be a Cardinal! Three wins last night and HVL commits to WBB today!

  2. Agreed Mike. Field Hockey gets to the great eight. first time in program history, women's soccer moves on to the second round, football holds on in Raleigh and Van Lith ! I'm especially excited about Van Lith. I've watched vids on her and just her whole personality and philosophy. She's going to become a crowd favorite

    Jeff Walz is like me. He just keep restocking the shelves. A quality Friday and Saturday. Let's hope Lamar and Field Hockey can make it a Super Sunday !!

    Curtis "Titletown USA" Franklin

  3. Hello Friends!

    Arthur Here !

    My Clemson Tigers had a good day with football rolling and women's soccer getting by Vanderbilt on penalty kicks at the end. I am also proud of my adopted Cardinals. Great job Friday for you all and nice work knocking off North Carolina State last night.

    Also congratulations on getting who I think is the best guard in the 2020 class in Hailey Van Lith. After watching her play on Walz's USA squad, I was convinced that she'd have a huge impact on whereever she decided to go. The only thing that could have been better would have been if she had chosen Clemson, but, we know that was never going to happen!

    Your friend
    #1 Clemson Fan
    Greer, SC


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