HE'S BACK AGAIN
Today would normally be our "Fridays with Daryl" segment, and I guess it still technically could be, except she's taking a day away from the site today....after putting in 18 hour days lately.
So, ol' Paulie emerges from the relative comfort of sleeping in on Friday and gets a third straight day bringing you the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports news. Grab a coffee, grab a chair -- there's blueberry muffins on the table and make sure your seats are in their upright position -- we blast off as soon as we find a pilot and boldly go where...ok...let's get into it.
FIELD HOCKEY VS. MICHIGAN
We have come down to the final four squads remaining in the NCAA Field Hockey Championships and your Louisville Cardinals will take the field in the second game today at Karen Shelton Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC to vie for a chance to advance to the National Championship game Sunday.
The foe is Michigan, from the Big 10, and entered the tournament as the #2 seed. The Wolverines received a first round bye in the 12-team tournament, like Louisville did -- and faced Bucknell in the second round. Bucknell had gotten their by downing VCU in the first round. The Bison, as their known, faced "Go Blue" on the Penn State field in University Park, PA but ended up on the short end of a 2-0 score.
14-2 Michigan got a goal with less than a minute left in the first half from junior Katie Anderson for the only score they'd need...then followed it up early in the third quarter when senior Kathryn Anderson connected on a penalty corner. It was UM's first non-conference game of the season and the 11th straight win of the season for Michigan. Goalie Anna Speicker has had nine shutouts this season.
The Big 10 version of Field Hockey is a bit more physical and contact-laden than the way they play the game in the ACC. And, they did not play in the fall like the ACC did, We'll see how Louisville's quickness and speed counters against this style of "hockey".
As for the Cards, they reached the final four with a 1-0 win over UConn. Alli Bitting provided the lone goal off a penalty corner, following up on a Meche Pastor shot attempt and driving it home. Bitting confided that she'd practiced the scoring scenario "about a million times" in UofL practices and the Cardinal senior proved that practice makes perfect.
The shutout was orchestrated by the Cardinal's shut down defense and with Sam Minrath in goal service. The redshirt-sophomore from Louisville's Christian Academy was the second-string goalkeeper in the fall but assumed the starting nod when the Cards' Hollyn Barr opted-out for the spring season. Minrath has been a guiding force in goal service and a team leader in the locker room. She continues the superlative sequence of Cardinal net-tenders, we all remember Ayeshia McFerran...and Louisville Field Hockey head goal Justine Sowry was a goal-tender as well, in her collegiate days. Minrath was also under the tutelage of first-year volunteer coach Cat O'Connor -- former Wake Forest goalie and now attending Law School at Louisville.
The Cards play the second game today, after they find out whether it will be UNC or Iowa that advance to the championship round. That first match takes place at 1 p.m. today, and the Cards vs. Blue is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. The weather this morning on the UNC campus is cloudy and rainy -- that rain is forecast to hang around most of the days and the temperatures hovering around the 60 degree mark. Hey, they usually water the field before and at halftime of games -- so -- it hopefully won't mess with the matches too much.
This one will be available on the internet at ESPN3. Here's the link that UofL lists on the GoCards website -- you know how those can go at times -- but I guess it's worth a shot:
We wish the best for our Field Hockey team today and a win that'll take them to Sunday's championship !! When you have Meche Pastor on your team, anything is possible. I like our chances.
SOFTBALL AT N.C. STATE
That rainy weather forecast for Chapel Hill, North Carolina also extends to the Tar Heels softball diamond -- where Louisville Softball will hope to get in their final regular season series before the ACC Tournament .against (12-23, 8-17) UNC Softball. This one is huge for the TarHeels, they are three games and .013 percentage points out of 10th place.
The top 10 teams head to Louisville and the ACC Tournament next week, so the Tar Heels will look to end their nine-game losing streak and sneak into the first-round action on Wednesday at Ulmer Stadium with a combination of a series sweep over Louisville and some luck with either Syracuse dropping a few to Clemson, or Pitt falling to visiting Florida State.
Wins are also needed by the Cards on their visit to Tobacco Road. They'd love to finish the season in sixth place in the conference standings, because the top six squads get a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament.
These two start the action (for now, at least -- we know how weather an alter schedules) at 5:30 p.m. and it'll be on ACC Network Extra.
UNC plays their home slate in Anderson Stadium on campus. Our Cardinal Couple photographer and columnist Jared's last name is Anderson. Maybe the Softball Cards will feel right at home and comfortable seeing their ol' buddy Jared's name on the facility? Just in case, bring the bats, Cards, and let's have success in the circle.
Have a fun Friday!