Syracuse Ends Undefeated Hopes
While we had previously mused that a field hockey loss would relieve the pressure of being undefeated, Jeff and I noted that we'd rather lose the non-conference game against Virginia than the finale against Syracuse. Such was not the way it would go. Fortunately, Louisville locked up the ACC regular season championship last week when they beat Virginia, as they could only finish tied with any other team and they held the tiebreaker over all competitors. At that point, going undefeated would have still been nice and beating Syracuse would have maintained some momentum, but neither was necessary for the Cards to hold the number 1 seed in next week's ACC tournament.
Based on Coach Sowry's post-game comments, she wasn't particularly thrilled with how the team played, but saw positives in the defeat. Louisville has a very aggressive pressing style of play. When that is thwarted, the Cards are a bit tentative and can't get things going on offense the way they'd like. That was the case yesterday, when Syracuse prevented Louisville from doing what they wanted to do and from playing the way they like to play. Coach noted that the team wasn't "able to problem solve on the fly" and that the loss would allow the team to "learn some valuable lessons" ahead of the ACC tournament. That will be key, as the Cards are sure to face the juggernauts of the ACC if they hope to claim their first ACC tournament title. Louisville has already beaten everyone in the league save Syracuse at least once, but now every team will get the opportunity to game plan for them and it will be tougher to repeat. Being adaptable will make or break the Cards in the postseason.
Despite Louisville not having as much control over yesterday's game as they'd like, they still led in offensive categories. The Cards had more shots, shots on goal, and penalty corners than Syracuse, albeit all by just one, but it was the stat that mattered--goals--where the Orange held the advantage of one. Syracuse was able to convert on one of their three corners while Louisville went 0-4. That gave the Orange the advantage they needed to win 2-1. A lot of credit goes to Syracuse for the way they held with the Cards, as Louisville is a type of team that likes to score early and often. To head to the half at 0-0 as the teams did yesterday increased the chances of an upset dramatically.
Louisville's lone goal came off the stick of Aimee Plumb, her second of the season. Entering the fourth, the Cards trailed 1-0 from a rebounded corner in the third quarter. Five minutes into the final period, Syracuse earned a penalty stroke and Sam Minrath trotted onto the field for her specialty. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and the Orange doubled their advantage. The two teams traded the ball back and forth for awhile until just over three minutes remained on the clock. It was then that a Louisville onslaught began. Over the course of the remainder of the game, Louisville earned two corners and took five shots. Only the one from Plumb could find the back of the cage, though, and the hopes for an undefeated season came to an end.
The Cards will now sit back and watch the remainder of the season unfold to find out how the ACC tournament bracket will shake out. Louisville will hold the number one seed and UNC the number two. Syracuse's upset of Louisville puts them in third, but Virginia is still in a position to tie their record. The interesting battle is for the bottom seed. Duke sits at 0-4 in conference, but Boston College has still played only one game all year. They're scheduled for a match against Wake to end the season tomorrow, but if it's not played, Duke could manage to get off the bottom line with a victory over Virginia. I'm sure the Blue Devils would rather play Syracuse than UNC. Everything will be sorted out by the end of the day tomorrow, and the ACC tournament gets underway Thursday.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
After a week off, we're back again this week with another edition of the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast. It won't be particularly spooky, despite the Halloween timing, unless you consider that most of the topics of conversation will be losses and post-season prognostications. Jared, Paulie, Jeff, and myself will all be on this week as we strive to share the joy and excitement of Louisville women's athletics. Tune in to the Cardinal Couple YouTube Channel for the live show at 11AM, or check out the podcast shortly after the show. Search for the "Cardinal Couple Radio Hour" in your podcast player of choice and hit subscribe to get each show sent straight to your device.
Until next time, Go Cards!
PS: Happy Halloween to all! Remember to stay safe if you're planning on doing any trick or treating or handing out candy!