Saturday, October 31, 2020
Friday, October 30, 2020
UNC 3 - UofL 1
The #1 in the nation North Carolina Tar Heels used three second half goals to defeat Louisville women's soccer last night in cool, rainy and windy at times conditions in Lynn Stadium last night.
It was the final game of the fall slate for Louisville (4-4 )and they'll now wait and see what happens on Sunday with the rest of the league to see if they'll make the ACC Tournament next week. Currently the Cards have 12 points and several analysts are speculating that 12 is the minimum it'll take to get a squad into fall post-season play.
The first half was a scoreless contest where the squads tried a few shots on each other but no one found the back of the net. An apparent goal by UNC early in the action was disallowed by the officials because the off-sides rule. Louisville actually outshot UNC in the first 45 minutes four to three, but the squad from Chapel Hill had a 4-0 corner kick advantage.
The fireworks happened in the second half and it was the Cards who set off the first explosion. Taylor Kerwin found Emina Ekic cutting across the box and the Louisville senior planted a shot into the top left of the net to give the Cards the lead. Ekic's celebration slide into a pile of Cardinals on the sideline should be sent to Louisville Softball coach Holly Aprile for spring Softball consideration as a base-stealer....
The lead didn't last long, though. UNC went to work quickly after the Cardinals score and just 25 seconds later, Brianna Pinto found Rachel Jones in front of the Cardinal goal and Jones' shot found success to tie the match.
The Cards couldn't find much of an offensive spark after Ekic's score, while UNC followed up their initial goal with a second one three minutes later when Sam Meza scooted a shot past Cardinal goalkeeper Gabby Kouzelos on a corner kick.
The TarHeels would add an insurance goal in the 80th minute of play and keep their record clean at 8-0, 7-0 in ACC play. They'll end the season Sunday when they host Notre Dame. The Irish were idle last night. They have 12 points, like Louisville, and the two squads are tied for fourth place.
The tie-breaker will be based on point-differential on the season, and Louisville looks pretty good there with a +3 differential.
The Cards will be watching Sunday's action intently, though...especially the Virginia Tech vs, Boston College match, Duke vs. Miami match and Notre Dame at UNC. With four schools already qualified for the tournament (UNC with 21 points, FSU with 21 points, Clemson with 15 points and Virginia with 13 points...the Cards could finish anywhere from fifth to ninth in the final fall standings, depending on the Sunday results. The top eight make ACC Tournament play.
( A SPECIAL THANKS TO JARED ANDERSON WHO BRAVED THE ELEMENTS AND GOT THESE GREAT PHOTOS FOR US!)
FIELD HOCKEY AT SYRACUSE
Louisville Field Hockey travels to Syracuse for the final fall season match in the ACC Field Hockey schedule. First pass-back is at 2 p.m. and the match will be available on the ACC Network Extra.
The Cards are 7-0, 5-0 in the ACC standings and have earned a share for the regular season championship. A win over the 3-3 Orange would give the regular season title outright to Louisville.
Syracuse is to be feared, though, they're on a two-game win streak and are 2-2 in ACC "official" play. The Orange have lost at second place UNC and Virginia.
Getting the top seed for the upcoming ACC Tournament is the goal for the Cards today, the #1 seed gets a bye in the quarterfinals and then face the winner of the #4 and #5 seeds in the semifinals...which means they could face Syracuse again, Wake Forest or Virginia.
Good luck to the Cardinal "stick girls" today in the 'Cuse !
Jeff Walz addressed the media yesterday for about 25 minutes in a teleconference and we learned a great deal about the squad and also that Walz is an "iron man" champion. Although the video feed cut out the Walz discussion on how he bested a bunch of buddies in the two-event "iron man" event last week -- we also have the audio attached where you can hear him talk about his tennis and golfing skills.
Walz reported on the team, as well, and we learned that he's pumped about the squad's depth, competitiveness, play of the incoming freshmen and abilities. Walz feels that all 12 eligible players on the roster could enter the game at any time and there would be no drop off at all in the level of play and success.
The Cards are scheduled to play 25 games in all -- 20 of the ACC contests and five non-conference. They won't face rival UK...the details couldn't be worked out.
We also learned that around 3000 will be allowed in the KFC YUM Center (for now) and he talked about the new student housing facility that will be built across from the Koeber practice facility as well. Good info yesterday from Coach !!
Links for you:
AUDIO ONLY: CLICK HERE
VIDEO AND AUDIO: CLICK HERE
Have a fantastic Friday!
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Cards Host #1 UNC
Closing out the fall portion of their season, Louisville women's soccer hosts #1 North Carolina tonight. UNC enters the match with a perfect 7-0 record (6-0 and 18 points in the ACC). Their only real competition for top of the league standings is #2 Florida State, who is also 7-0.,,,but Clemson could share for a portion of the fall season title...if (and it's a big "if") the Tigers win their final two matches and both UNC and FSU lose their remaining two matches.
The Tar Heels have won five of their matches by a two goal margin or higher, sitting comfortably down the stretch of most matches.
More impressively, the Heels have surrendered just two goals on the year. Wake Forest snuck in a goal during a 4-1 beatdown and Boston College managed a score during a 3-1 loss. It's hard to 'boo-lieve' North Carolina has been so dominant on the defensive end. Rachel Jones has been the top scorer this season with three goals. Brianna Pinto is fresh on her heels with two goals. Another six North Carolina players all have logged a goal this year. .Junior keeper Claudia Dickey has been frighteningly good in goal. She has 15 saves against two goals for a .882 save percentage.
Both teams have ACC Tournament seedings on the line here. UNC hopes to drive a stake through FSU for the 1-seed.
Louisville (4-3) has won all their matches in shut-out fashion. They've also lost this matches in shut-out fashion. No ties on the slate so far for either team, and, I doubt one haunts either team tonight.
As Paulie mentioned yesterday, the Cards are in a tight race for other contenders to make the eight-team tournament. 12 points may or may not be enough to make it this year. So there's no trick-or-treat here, this is 'IT' for the Cards to improve their chances for a bid and a good seed.
New Student Housing
UofL announced plans for a new on campus housing facility for student-athletes yesterday.
Besides a place to house men's basketball, the new dorm will also be home to women's basketball and lacrosse. There is no trick to this one, but it is quite a treat if you play for any of these three teams. The facility will be on Floyd Street across from the Planet Fitness Kueber Center. There will be a walkway on the second floor leading from the dorm to the Kueber Center.
This 128-bed facility will be approximately $23.5 million. $3.5 million of it will be raised by a donor, who will be involved with the naming rights.
We have a teleconference presser from Jeff Walz scheduled for 12:30 today, and no doubt he'll discuss the upcoming housing facility. Paulie reached Scott Teeter about the facility yesterday and the Louisville head Lacrosse coach commented it was: "Great news, it'll be really good. It is exciting."
Don't forget to tune into our Cardinal Couple Radio Hour on Saturday for a fun Halloween session. You'll be in for a 'fang-tastic' time! (Hopefully these early Halloween puns weren't too (candy) corny for you).
Happy Thursday and Go Cards!
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
CARDS GARNER HONORS IN FIELD HOCKEY AND VOLLEYBALL
A great week for Louisville Field Hockey and Volleyball when it comes to ACC Honors! Two Field Hockey student-athletes and one Volleyball student-athlete were recognized by the ACC for their accomplishments. Let's take a look.
A tip of the hat to Mercedes Pastor and Alli Bitting, who received ACC Field Hockey Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Pastor was her usual brilliant self in the Cards two games at Virginia. She tallied three goals and added an assist in Louisville's sweep of the Cavaliers. It the third time this season that "Mechi" has gotten the honor.
On the defensive side of things, senior Alli Bitting is a huge part of the Cardinal defense that held the Cavs to just three goals in two matches and has limited opponents to just seven goals in seven contests. Bitting is also second in the ACC in assists per game.
Louisville ends the regular fall slate of their schedule at Syracuse on Friday. The Cards have already clinch a portion of the regular season title and a win would give it to them out-right with a 8-0 record. That would also give UofL the top seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament. There is no "official" rankings this fall, but, when you are the only undefeated team in DI...well, you can figure out the rest.
Anna DeBeer walks away with the ACC Freshman of the Week honors after the Cards split matches with Pittsburgh last week. DeBeer "led 'em all" with 22 kills in the Cards four-set win Sunday over Pitt and she was one of three Cardinals with seven kills in Friday's match.
The freshman outside hitter from Louisville Assumption has, obviously, had a huge impact on the Cards building a 5-2 record in the shortened fall slate. Look for the VolleyCards to "bring on DeBeer" a bunch in the spring, when things will hopefully get back to a larger slate of game and a NCAA Tournament will follow.
THINGS STILL UP IN THE AIR FOR ACC WSOC TOURNAMENT SEEDINGS
Only eight teams will make the ACC WSOC Tournament in November. 10 out of the 13 squads still, mathematically, have a shot at getting an invite. It's a situation where we may need Cardinal Couple columnists Worldwide Jeff and Case to step in and develop a "cheat code" or draw up an extensive blueprint for the final slate.
Points are the key to earning the trip to the WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary, NC starting November 10th. Just to refresh you, soccer squads get three points for a win and one for a tie. With the teams have either one or two matches left, let's take a look at the current point totals and scenarios as we go into the final week of the fall schedule.
NORTH CAROLINA sits atop the ACC, in a tie with FSU, with 18 points. their final two matches are at Louisville and hosting Notre Dame. The TarHeels could end up with 24 points, depending on how it goes. They are definitely "in" the ACC Tournament and are playing for top seed.
FLORIDA STATE also has amassed 18 points. They finish up hosting Clemson and Duke for their final two matches. So, wins could have them tied for first...they didn't play UNC, so the tie-breaker here could fall into play.
CLEMSON has earned 12 points. They, too, have two matches remaining...with Pitt coming in and then a trip to FSU. They could vault themselves into a tie for the top of the conference if they win over both and UNC and FSU lose their remaining two games. Doubtful but still a possibility. Winning at FSU seems to be a tall order for anyone...
LOUISVILLE also has 12 points but just one match remaining and that's a doozy, with North Carolina tomorrow night at Lynn Stadium. The Cards could secure a berth in Cary with a win. A loss or tie makes it interesting...
NOTRE DAME has just one match left and they, too, have their work cut out for them -- travelling to North Carolina. They have to wait until Sunday to face the Tar Heels. A win would help ensure they're going to post-season.
DUKE sits with 11 points and has two matches to go. They hit the road for contests against Miami and FSU, so they could possibly pick up six points. They'll probably handle Miami with no problem, FSU is a different story. It's possible they could end with 14 points, though, and vault over Clemson and Louisville, if those squads "lose" out.
VIRGINIA has 10 points but could really advance if they take their final two contests on the road against Boston College and Syracuse. These are two squads who are pretty much eliminated from going to the ACC Tournament and the Blue Devils might find themselves with 16 points if they can pull off the road wins.
PITTSBURGH checks in with 9 points. They have two matches remaining...at Clemson and Wake Forest. Winning both would propel them to 15 points. It's a tall order, but, that's why they play the games...
WAKE FOREST has 7 points and,, quite frankly,...needs a lot of help to make the top eight. They go to Pitt and Virginia Tech and have to win both, plus hope for some losses in teams ranked above them, to pack their bags and head to Wake Med. 13 points might get them in if they win out but the odds are stacked against them.
VIRGINIA TECH has accumulated 6 points and needs a miracle of huge proportions to get to the ACC Tournament. They end with road trips to Boston College and Wake Forest. Sure, they could win both, wind up with 12 points and get a bid...but the chances of that are fairly remote.
Teams that are mathematically eliminated are Boston College (3 points) Miami (0 points) Syracuse (0 points) The best they can try to accomplish now is being a spoiler with wins over teams with more points . Where's NC State, you might ask? They're sitting out the fall in Raleigh. Georgia Tech doesn't field an ACC WSOC squad.
And there you have it. All clear, right? I hope so for you,,,all this speculation and "ciphering" gave me a headache and just may send me to the refrigerator for a little Bailey's with my morning coffee.
This should be fun. By Sunday night, we'll know. My best guess is that the Cards are probably in, with 12 points, if they lose to UNC, but they'll be a #7 or #8 seed. I'd sure love to see UofL knock off the Tar Heels in Lynn and will root for that!
Having to face either UNC or FSU in a #1 vs #8 or #2 vs #7 quarterfinal matchup isn't the best of luck in the draw, obviously...but, it's 2020 and we can all attest that it's been one strange year. And, NEVER underestimate a team that has Gabby and Emina...just sayin'.
Have a Wonderful Wednesday
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Sawyer Wins ITA Fall Classic
We move away from some of our major fall sports for a moment to congratulate and gloat about another of our wonderful women student-athletes at Louisville. Chelsey Sawyer won the ITA Fall Classic for Louisville women's tennis at Georgia Gwinnett this weekend. Sawyer is a new face to the team this year after transferring in from Penn State.
To claim the crown, Sawyer had to face five opponents. She took down Agda Laasko 6-0, 6-0 in the opening round. She followed up the sweep with a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Sasha Hartje in the second round. In the quarterfinals, Sawyer defeated Taylor Dean 6-2, 6-2. She had a little tougher of a match-up in the semifinals, but ultimately beat Sofia Pinedo 6-4, 6-4.
The finals were a much closer match that saw Walker defeat Sydney Flesch 7-6 (7), 7-5 (5).
The ITA Fall Classic had strict protocols. Players had to use hand sanitizer before matches and during each break. The could only use their own towels, water, and equipment. When passing balls to their opponent, players were only permitted to use their shoes or rackets.
We are excited to have Walker join UofL women's tennis and a win in the ITA Fall Classic is one heck of an entrance.
Which Seniors are Staying?
With Sunday being Senior Day for Women's Soccer we have to raise a question: Which seniors are staying?
The roster lists six seniors on the roster: Emina Ekic, Taylor Kerwin, Lana Batson, Amari Hopkins, Nadege L'Esperance, and Gabby Kouzelos. However, only the first four were recognized Sunday.
The NCAA did grant an extra year of eligibility to all fall student-athletes so that could factor into it.
Perhaps the four players recognized have decided that they will continue their journey and graduate this year. Or maybe Kouzelos and L'Esperance have decided they are 100% coming back. We have not received any confirmation on any of our Cards yet, but it does allow the imagination to run wild. For now, we will continue to support the Cards.
They Say It's Your Birthday!
From all of us at Cardinal Couple, we'd like to extend Happy Birthday greetings to University of Louisville head Women's Basketball Coach Jeff Walz.
Try to remember Louisville Women's Basketball before Coach Walz came to Louisville. I'm sure Paulie could run down some highlights and accomplishments -- but, for many of us, Walz is the architect who has built the program into the national powerhouse it is today.
Many more to you, Coach, and best wishes of the day! If you follow Coach on Facebook, give him a shout today.
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!
Monday, October 26, 2020
A busy day of UofL women's sports action yesterday, with the Louisville Women's Soccer squad starting it out by hosting Notre Dame and then the Louisville Volleyball team at Pitt. Here's the results...in the order they happened.
IRISH EDGE CARDS 1-0
If there is one thing we can count on when the Cards and Fighting Irish get together in a soccer match, it is that it'll be a low scoring affair. A total of two goals have been scored in the last three matches between the two and yesterday was no exception, Notre Dame leaving Lynn Stadium with a 1-0 win.
Louisville (4-3) definitely had their chances to score. The Cards had a 9-7 shot advantage and drew seven corner kicks against the Fighting Irish were held to just three. Despite the edge, neither team could get the ball past the respective goalkeepers and defenses and the first half ended in a 0-0 tie.
Despite a Louisville possession edge in the contest but the Irish got the lone score in the contest when the Cards were called for a "hand ball" during an Irish attempt to take a shot with 21 minutes left in the second half. It occurred in the small box in front of the goal when the Cardinals Nadage L'Esperance went for a sliding block of a shot but the ball bounced off her hand. In soccer rules, that calls for a penalty kick and it was Notre Dame forward Carmyn Dyke one-on-one against UofL goalkeeper Gabby Kouzelos.
Penalty kicks that are that close to the goal usually go in favor of the kicker, not the defender and...unfortunately for the Cards...Dyke slid one to the lower right of the net that barely got past the diving Kouzelos and landed in the net.
Louisville thought they had the tying goal with just eight minutes remaining when L'Esperance took a corner kick from Emina Ekic and sent it to the net. The attempt was stopped. Seconds later, Cardinal Cassie Amshoff got off another attempt but was stopped. The Cardinal staff (and most of the press box) thought there was a goal scored. A review was requested and the officials huddled around the on-field monitor but no goal was granted. Our Cardinal Couple photographer Jared Anderson was in position and got a great shot of the controversial call on the attempt (pictured below). Apparently, in soccer, no goal is scored, if the ball doesn't cross the line...even if the defender is standing behind the line.
A judgemental call, in my opinion. That ball looks to be on the line, maybe over it and could have been counted as a goal. You make your own determination... (Great work by Jared with the shot...by the way).
A tough loss for the Cards on Senior Day....where seniors Lana Batson, Amari Hopkins, Taylor Kerwin and Emina Ekic were honored pre-match.
It doesn't get any easier for them when #1 in the ACC and college women's soccer North Carolina comes to town for a match Thursday night.
VOLLEYBALL DOWNS PITT 3-1
If you haven't come to the conclusion so far...you're going to like Louisville freshman outside hitter Anna DeBeer a lot, Cardinal Volleyball fans.
Yesterday the freshman from Louisville Assumption went ballistic on the home-standing Pitt Panthers and had 22 kills in Louisville's 26-24, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23 win over Pitt.
The Cardinal win snapped Pittsburgh's 37-match home winning streak.
Four close sets in the Sunday action...Louisville and Pitt battling to a 24-24 tie in the first set, before Tori Dilfer served an "ace" to give the Cards a 0ne-point lead and a hitting error by Pitt won it for UofL.
The Cards took an early six-point lead in set two at 11-5 but Pitt rallied to tie the match up at 21-21. After trading points, two straight Panther hitting errors gav UofL the win.
Pitt wasn't quite ready to concede the match, though, and jumped out to an early 12-4 third set advantage. The Cards battled back to draw within one at 21-20, but the Panthers got some key stops and scores out of their strong middle blockers to out-point the Cards 4-1 to close out the third set and force a fourth.
Louisville broke open a close fourth set when Aiko Jones helped lead UofL to a 5-0 run that put the Cards on top 17-13. Pitt rallied, though, to grab a 21-20 lead behind last year's ACC MVP Kayla Lund. After DeBeer tied the match at 21-21, the Cards went on a three-point run to get to match point at 24-21. Pitt would reciprocate with two points, but DeBeer gave the Cards the 25-23 win with a final kill. Set and match.....CARDINALS !!
Anna Stevenson also had a big afternoon for Louisville with 13 kills and six blocks and steady Tori Dilfer had 47 assists for the Cardinals.
Louisville ends the fall portion of the season with a 5-2 record (assuming that a cancelled game against Notre Dame won't be made up) and when we get a clear idea of a spring schedule being worked out by the NCAA and ACC, we'll give you the update here at Cardinal Couple!
Have a Meaningful Monday!
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Field Hockey Clenches the Regular Season
Volleyball Wraps the Season at Pitt
CCRH Week Off
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Field Hockey Remains Undefeated
Volleyball Loses Winning Streak at Pitt
No Cardinal Couple Radio Hour This Week
Friday, October 23, 2020
BOTH CARDINAL SQUADS ON THE ROAD FOR ACC ACTION.
LOUISVILLE FIELD HOCKEY VS VIRGINIA
The 5-0 Field Hockey Cards end a 13-day hiatus from contests with a road trip to Charlottesville to face the 3-3 Virginia squad -- who has been inactive against opponents since October 12th.
Louisville fell to the Cavaliers last year at Trager Stadium 2-1, snapping a four-game win streak. The Cards come into the contest having out-scored opponents this year 13-4, with seven different Cardinals finding the net successfully. Cards goalkeeper Hollyn Barr leads the ACC with a 0.80 goals against average.
The Cavs started the 2020 fall season splitting a couple of games against visiting Wake Forest. They brought in Syracuse next and defeated the Orange in both contests. They then traveled to UNC and dropped a pair to the Tar Heels 5-1 and 2-1. Virginia was scheduled to play Boston College Oct 18th. but COVID-19 concerns on the B.C. squad caused this one to be postponed.
Other ACC Field Hockey matches today features 0-5 Duke at 1-5 Wake Forest.
For the Cards vs. Virginia today, dry conditions and a high of 80 degrees is expected in the Charlottesville area.
News on the ACC Field Hockey Tournament has been revealed. The event will take place Nov. 5-8 on the Duke campus. Thursday's three quarterfinal matches will begin Thursday Nov 5th. at 2 p.m. Friday's semifinals will start at 1:30 p.m. and the championship will take place Sunday Nov. 8th at noon All six matches will be televised on the ACC Network.
LOUISVILLE VOLLEYBALL AT PITT
The VolleyCards roll into the Steel City for a pair against the Panthers and the first match takes place tonight at 7 p.m.
It's a unexpectedly "down" year for Pitt Volleyball with a 3-3 record. The Panthers started the season at Syracuse and dropped both matches to the Orange in 3-2 and 3-0 sets. Pitt returned to the Fitzgerald Field House to best Boston College in two matches 3-1 and 3-0. Most recently, Pitt visited South Bend, where they split with Notre Dame...losing the opener 3-2 but sweeping the second day 3-0.
The Cards go into the contest with a 4-1 record aare aare ranked #6 in the NCAA. After an opening season loss to Notre Dame, the second match against the Irish was postponed due to positive COVID-19 testing on the Cardinal squad. Louisville has been on a four-game win streak since then -- beating B.C in Boston 3-0, 3-1 and shutting out Syracuse in the L&N Federal Credit Union Arena 3-0, 3-0.
We've gotten news from a couple of reliable sources that an attendance plan for Louisville basketball home games has been sent to Frankfort for Gov. Andy and his bunch's consideration and been sent back with a few suggested modifications.
Without going into a lot of details, since it is not official yet, we're hearing that attendance will most likely be limited to around 15% of regular capacity and increased social distancing between the fans and players are going to be in place. We'll continue to monitor the situation and update you when we get further information
Most likely, the ACC will take a glance now and either approve or come up with suggested modifications.
And...that's how it goes in 2020, folks...
CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR PODCAST
With 3/4ths of our Cardinal Couple crew previously committed to other obligations this upcoming Saturday, there won't be a podcast presentation this week.
You can (hopefully) expect to hear us again next week at 11 a.m. and there are several ways to listen in or catch the rebroadcast....You Tube and Anchor FM...being the most popular options. You can hear last week's show by clicking the staff picture at the top of the page, in case you missed it.
Have a fortunate Friday!!
Thursday, October 22, 2020
NCAA Releases New Rankings
The NCAA has been slow this year getting updated rankings (all Coaches Polls) but the latest rankings are out.
Volleyball retained their #6 spot after having a bye week. Notre Dame still sits at at #5 to lead the ACC. Georgia Tech moved up to #8. Pitt, Miami, and Syracuse hold the 10th, 11th, and 12th spots, respectively. Duke fell a little down to #14. The Cards are set for a Top 10 match-up in a two-match series at Pitt this Friday and Sunday.
Soccer also remained in their most recent spot, with the Cards ranked #13. They fell at Virginia before bouncing back with a win at Virginia Tech. The ACC now owns the top four spots in the rankings. North Carolina continues to hang onto the #1 spot. Florida State, Clemson, and Duke are next in line with the 2-4 spots. Virginia moved up to #10. The Cards rounded out the six ACC teams in the Top 15.Louisville is home this Sunday at 1:30 against Notre Dame and then next Thursday against North Carolina.
There has not been much activity in field hockey lately. The Cards were on a bye week. With no rankings, we can only assume our own rankings. The Cards are 5-0 (4-0). North Carolina is now 6-1 (3-1) with their sole loss to Louisville. Virginia and Syracuse are both 3-3 with the Wahoos 2-1 in conference play and the Orange at 2-2. Boston College has had some issues with positive COVID-19 cases and still sit at 0-1 (0-1). Wake Forest is 1-5 (0-3) while Duke has had a surprisingly tough year at 0-5 (0-3).
UNC could make a case for the top spot, but with the Cards undefeated and own the head-to-head anyone with a brain would put them at #1.
There is some good news and something to look forward to as women's basketball is about a month away from the season starting. The conference schedule has not been released but the Cards have five non-conference games.
They head down to Middle Tennessee on Nov. 25. They then turn around and head to Cincinnati on the 28th. The Cards come home the next day to host Coach Sam Williams and EKU. The big one is the visit to UConn on Dec. 4. The last non-conference game is a game at the KFC Yum! Center against the new D1 program Bellarmine. Sadly, we won't see Candyce Bingham Wheeler, who left Bellarmine to join Becky Burke at USC Upstate.
Happy Thursday and Go Cards!
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
As University of Louisville women's fall sports start to wind down toward ACC Tournament times or a brief hiatus until the spring, let's take a look at a few of the key student-athlete performers for the Cards in three sports.
I'll be awarding "The Paulies" today...for Women's Soccer, Field Hockey and Volleyball. The categories are Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and Rookie of the Season.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I have been advised I can't do the awards in a public setting with a large crowd in attendance. I briefly considered shouting out the winners in the press box at the home WSOC game against Notre Dame this Sunday or from my seat at the FSU Football game this Saturday...but have decided to just do them here in my office, in my puffy pants and Motor City Bowl sweatshirt. The squirrels in the front yard are the only audience besides Sonya...they don't seem very interested in the event, but, hey -- it's 2020...I'm used to the scenario. So with no further adieu, I'll use a little sanitizer, wash my hands in hot water and put on my mask as we head into...The Paulies !!!
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
This one was a toughie, with two prime candidates in Emina Ekic, who leads Louisville in goals scored and Gabby Kouzelos, who stops everything but traffic on Bardstown Road during rush hour. The Kickin' Cards have allowed just three scores in six games, though, and Gabby has keyed a stingy defense that has gone under the philosophy of "if you can't score on us, you can't beat us"
The Paulie goes to Gabby Kouzelos, who will probably promptly dive for it, catch it, set it on the pitch and kick it out to mid-field...
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Keeping in line with the philosophy of you can't win if you can't score, midfield-back Sarah Hernandez has been an integral part of what the Cards have been doing defensively. Not flashy, but -- oh, so consistent -- she just puts on the hard hat and never leaves the field. We had questions about Louisville's defensive prior to the season starting, Sarah has been a mainstay in making them look very impressive, so the Paulie goes to Sarah Hernandez, who most likely prevent me from getting the award to her and send it out to another midfield to start the attack.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
We didn't know a lot about freshman Atlanta, GA native Morgan Bentley before the season started, but, she's rapidly become a name to get to know. Ask Virginia Tech, Bentley scored the lone goal in the Cards last outing against the Hokies and has been an integral part of the Cards offense this year. The Paulie goes to Morgan Bentley and I'll have Emina Ekic send it in to her on a corner kick and let her drive it into the net.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Getting to 5-0 this season has been a wonderful and impressive surprise for Justine Sowry's squad. The player the opposition keys on has been Mercedes Pastor. "Mechi" leads Louisville in goals scored and is the clear choice to me for the MVP designation Mercedes Pastor gets the Paulie and I'll set it in one of the corners of Trager Stadium and let her work her stick magic with it to get it in position for a shot on goal or take back to her locker.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Following a legend is tough to do. Last year, Hollyn Barr won the battle to replace sensation Ayeshia McFerran in goal. All she did was help take the Cards to the NCAA Tournament. That being quite the accomplishment, she's come back even more impressive this season and allowed just four goals, while creating 14 saves. The red-shirt senior stops the ball from going in the net and I give her the most improved player. I'll try to leave "the Paulie award" in the middle of the net for her, but, most likely she'll get a pad on it during my attempt and knock it out of danger.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Several freshmen have made an impact on the pitch this year at Trager, but the most impressive to me has been the girl from Haarlem. No, that's not one of the seven boroughs of New York, it's a city in The Netherlands and the Paulie award winner is Charlie van Oirschot. She's scored twice for the Stick Girls this year and shown a ferocity on the Trager turf that really impresses me. We'll just put the award out on the field somewhere, knowing full well Charlie will find it, take control of it and advance it toward the opponent's goal.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
I go with Aiko here. The redshirt sophomore from Jamaica leads the Cards in kills and her arena rattling slams have been heard from Boston to the L&N Federal Credit Union Arena. She's an outside hitter that draws the attention of any defense she faces and she's got some pretty nifty dance moves as well! She began her career playing Volleyball on the concrete. That's a rough go of it, especially if the need to dive for a ball comes into play
The PAULIE GOES to Aiko Jones and I'll just toss it up in the vicinity of the net in the LNFCU and have no doubts she'll drill it past me, in bounds, for a point.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
This one is really a tough one to assign and award. I look at it like this. At Boston, the Cards were with senior setter Tori Dilfer. They went with South Alabama transfer Rachael DeMarcus and won six of the seven sets in Beantown. Granted she was outstanding while in the Sun Belt Conference as a freshman, but to step up in the ACC and turn in a performance like that -- with 81 assists -- showed me a lot. The Paulie goes to Rachael DeMarcus...I'll send it over the net and let her perform her magic with it.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
One of my favorite lines this season while watching Louisville Volleyball this year has been "Bring on DeBeer!" and I'm not asking Sonya to bring me a cold, chilly, frosty from the fridge. The Assumption superstar hasn't disappointed at all this season for the VolleyCards and is second on the roster in kills. Anna DeBeer earns the Paulie in this category...she'll run onto the court from the sidelines to accept it and then probably send it whistling back over my head at me.
Got a different take on any of these nine awards? Well, let me know in the comments section
Have a wise Wednesday,