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Saturday, October 30, 2021


Cards Hold on to Beat Cuse 2-1

Louisville entered yesterday afternoon's match with a share of the ACC regular season title in hand, but the number one seed in the ACC tournament--and the bye that comes with it--was still up for grabs. As the last home match of the regular season, yesterday marked Louisville's Senior Day. The Cards honored Alli Bitting, Erica Cooper, Mackenzie Karl, Sam Minrath, Camryn Pichea, and Katie Schneider. Outside of Minrath, every other senior earned a start. In a big game for the team and the players, the Cards responded with a big win.

The top-ten matchup was expected to be a tough one, as Syracuse was nearly undefeated in the ACC just like Louisville, though they dropped their last match against Virginia. As expected, it delivered with a close match in the end. The two teams hounded each other offensively, with both registering double-digit shots. Louisville turned fifteen shots into nine on target, while the Orange put six of eleven toward goal. Both goalies were up to the task as well, as they combined for 12 saves. Though Coach Justine Sowry lamented her defense sagging a bit in the second half, the Cards were stout when it mattered, keeping Syracuse out of goal on all five of their corner attempts in the first half and not allowing them to earn any in the second half.

Of those five corners Syracuse earned, four came in the first quarter. In fact, all four came in a row. Just under four minutes in, the Orange worked their way into the circle and fired a shot toward the cage that was blocked by a defender. The block gave Syracuse a corner, and the sequence began. Their first corner came to nothing, though it was put out for another opportunity. The second resulted in a shot, and Mila de Kuijer was up to her first test. The ball wasn't cleared, however, and another corner was given. Third time wasn't the charm, as again it came to nothing but another corner. On the fourth opportunity, Louisville again prevented a shot, this time finally clearing the ball to end the threat. To recap, Syracuse had four corners in 30 seconds and turned them into one shot, which was saved. Bravo to the Cards.

After that, it was Louisville's turn. A couple of minutes later, Charlie van Oirschot found herself with an opportunity on goal and fired a shot that was saved. She'd recover the ball and get another chance, but that shot went wide. Shortly after that sequence, Sowry went to a round of offensive substitutions, and they paid off. Nine minutes into the quarter, five minutes after Syracuse's barrage, Louisville found themselves in position to run the offense. That opportunity resulted in Aimee Plumb finding Filippa Niebuhr in the circle. Niebuhr fired a shot to the right side, and the Cards led 1-0. Syracuse would grab two more shots in the first quarter, but neither were on frame, and Louisville took their lead into the quarter break.

In the second quarter, it was the Cards that came out firing, and it looked as though they may be able to extend their advantage. Mattie Tabor put the first shot of the quarter towards goal just 40 seconds in, but the shot was wide. A couple of minutes later, Louisville started a sequence similar to the one Cuse had in the first quarter. Tabor again got a shot off in open play, and this one was one target but saved. The save resulted in a corner, which saw Emilia Kaczmarczyk have her shot blocked. For the second corner, Aimee Plumb turned the ball over to Alli Bitting to play in. Bitting returned the favor by sending it back to Plumb, who fired a shot on goal, only to have it saved. Bitting recovered the rebound, but her second effort was wide of the cage. After a pair of traded green cards, Syracuse got another chance with a pair of shots, one coming from a corner, but de Kuijer responded with a pair of saves to keep the score line at 1-0 as the teams hit the locker room.

As we have often seen with this team, they come out of the halftime break with intensity. Yesterday was no different, as Louisville found themselves in attacking position just a couple of minutes into the half. After earning a corner, Karl had her shot saved, but another corner was awarded. This time, it was Kouijzer who took the reception, but she passed it instead of firing a first time shot. This proved quite fruitful, as Erica Cooper fired a shot towards goal, and the Syracuse defender who tried to block it away succeeded only in deflecting it past the goalie. Cards led 2-0.

It would be nice to say that the Cards coasted off into the sunset to collect their ACC trophy after that, but then I would be lying. With five minutes left in the quarter, Syracuse worked their offense forward to put a shot on target. This one snuck past de Kuijer, but a defender's stick managed to find the path and earn a defensive save. Unfortunately, the joy was short lived, as the rebound went right back to Syracuse, who knocked it into the cage. 2-1 Cards. On the sequence, Bitting earned a yellow card, giving Syracuse a player advantage and a bit of momentum. They used that momentum to work out another shot a couple of minutes later, but de Kuijer was back on form to pick up the save. A Syracuse yellow card evened the field once more and the score remained as the quarter ended.

Louisville opened the fourth quarter with a flurry of activity. After a couple of minutes to get their feet under them, the Cards went on the attack. Over a minute and change, Louisville grabbed five total shots and two corners, resulting in three saves and a block. Ultimately, the fifth shot was wide and the threat was ended, but it was clear that Louisville was not satisfied with the one-goal lead. Two minutes later, it appeared they would get another opportunity to widen the gap when Syracuse saw a yellow card, but Louisville could do nothing with the advantage as Minna Tremonti got the same treatment 18 seconds later. Syracuse would go on to get one more shot in the match, but it was blocked. Unlike UNC, Syracuse did not gamble with an early goalie pull. They would employ the tactic, but they did it with four minutes left. It would prove to be too late, as the Orange could not even put up a shot with the extra attacker. 

Here's what Sowry, Bitting, and Cooper had to say after the win:

Louisville's 2-1 victory gave them 16 wins on the season. That mark ties the school record for most wins in a season, and the Cards will certainly be hoping to break that record as early as next week. I'm sure they'd love to blow it out of the water by winning their remaining five potential games to snag the ACC and NCAA tournament titles, neither of which the Cards have ever claimed. Louisville will get the winner of the BC and UVA game on Friday at 1PM, as they automatically advance to the ACC Semifinals. 

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Jeff is back this week so the live YouTube portion of the show should return. We'll see about that, though, as we've been haunted by technological issues recently. At any rate, we'll have four in the house to recap the week that was. Volleyball was off yesterday so we'll have plenty of time to talk about the big win over Pitt from Sunday, the field hockey regular season title, and the wrap up of the women's soccer season. If there's time, we'll look at the WBB Tip-off Luncheon, which Paulie will cover in more detail next week. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!

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