Penalty Strokes Down Louisville in ACC Semis
Louisville's offensive woes, which have plagued them intermittently throughout the season, struck again yesterday when Virginia once more held Louisville to just one goal as they did in the regular season matchup. Unlike that previous match, though, Louisville was unable to keep Virginia out of the cage and the teams headed to overtime, double-overtime, and, ultimately, penalty strokes. It took six rounds, but the Cavaliers eventually won out and the Cards will once again miss out on their opportunity to win the ACC Championship. With UNC's upset of Syracuse in the later game, the ACC is guaranteed a repeat champion, though Virginia has only won it once. UNC will be playing for their 24th ACC Field Hockey title. The next closest active member (Maryland has ten) is Wake Forest with four. Boston College, Duke, Louisville, and Syracuse are all still seeking their first title.
In the second quarter, it was once again Virginia with the early advantage. This is unlike how Louisville has performed recently, inability to score in droves aside, and it is a bit concerning looking ahead to the NCAA tournament. Neither team made much headway in the first portion of the quarter, but Virginia came alive halfway through. A penalty corner led to two shots, blocked and saved, but Louisville couldn't get out of their defensive end. A minute later, Virginia picked up another shot, this one needing to be saved by a defender. Unfortunately, Julie Kouijzer's defensive save was ruled illegal, and a penalty stroke was awarded. In what may have been an omen of what was to come, Virginia's shot clanked against the cage and the Cavs led 1-0. Louisville earned their first penalty corner later in the quarter, but they were unable to even get a shot off. The two teams traded shots, with Virginia nearly doubling their advantage, but the half ended with the score remaining 1-0.
Louisville appeared to regain some interest in winning this one when they emerged from the locker room, as they held Virginia to no offensive plays in the third quarter. On the offensive end, Louisville added three shots, forcing two saves, but could not find an equalizer. The fourth started much the same way. Louisville again commanded possession and worked to tie the match. They were successful on their fourth penalty corner of the match, with Alli Bitting sending the corner to Filippa Niebuhr, who deftly sent a return pass right back to Bitting for the goal. It was all UVA after that. For the remaining nine minutes of the match, Virginia hounded the Louisville goal looking for a winner. Virginia put up seven shots in the final stages, with just one penalty corner in the sequence. They forced four saves and two blocks as just one of the seven shots was off target. To their credit, Louisville was able to hold the line, and regulation ended in a 1-1 tie.
As the shootout began, Coach Justine Sowry made an interesting decision, as she pulled Mila de Kuijer from the cage in favor of sophomore Maitland Demand. Demand, who is not even listed as a goalkeeper on the roster, has been the emergency goalie in Sam Minrath's absence, but has not had to play yet. Mila de Kuijer had earned eight saves to that point in the game, so I don't quite understand this move, unless she felt unconfident after the Virginia stroke earlier. Virginia went first in the opening stage of the shootout, a guaranteed five stroke faceoff, and scored their first three. Louisville scored on two of three and faced a deficit with time running out. Demand was able to pick up a save, which Louisville answered with a goal on the fourth shot to tie, and both teams scored their fifth stroke. The next phase is sudden death, with each team getting one stroke until the score is no longer tied. Louisville had the first attempt in this portion, and Charlie van Oirschot's shot was saved. Laura Janssen scored on the next play and that was that. The ball found the back of the cage a total of 12 times, but the final scoreline reflects only that Louisville lost 2-1.
This was Louisville's first overtime loss of the season, as they had won the previous six matches that couldn't be decided in regulation. Their last penalty shootout loss was also in a semifinal match, last season's NCAA semifinal against Michigan. With Syracuse's loss, the Cards should still find themselves in a position to be the highest ranked ACC team entering the tournament and should host their first round game as a result. However, by losing their five-game winning streak, they are likely to lose ground in the overall rankings, making an extended hosting period in the NCAA tournament unlikely. Louisville will find out their fate tomorrow at 10PM when the 2021 selection show airs live on NCAA.com.
Volleyball Sweeps NC State in Raleigh
Claire Chaussee is on a roll right now. With ten kills in last night's match, she led the team in kills for the third straight match. Chaussee can be a bit mercurial at times, but when she is feeling it, she is a danger for any team to have to go against. With Anna DeBeer, Anna Stevenson, and Aiko Jones also terrorizing opposing teams' front lines, Chaussee being in her groove makes Louisville an even tougher challenge. Such was the case for NC State last night, as the Cards went into the Wolfpack's arena and did a little fall cleaning with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 sweep.
Joining Chaussee at the top was Stevenson, who finished with eight kills. Stevenson added three block assists, but her 1.5 total blocks couldn't surpass Chaussee for the lead in that category either, as Claire had two solo blocks and two assists for a total of 3.0. Next highest was Aiko Jones, who finished with one and three for a total of 2.5 blocks. Jones also chipped in five kills, tied with Amaya Tillman. Anna DeBeer had an up-and-down evening, as she finished with the third highest number of kills at six and tied for the team-high with three aces, but posted team-highs in errors (5) and service errors (2). Ayden Bartlett was the other leader in aces, and Stevenson and Tori Dilfer added two and one, respectively, to round out the total of nine.
Louisville's ability to close this one out and not allowing NC State to extend the match was critical. Louisville had dropped a set in three of the previous four matches after losing the sweep streak, so to get this one to start a road weekend is confidence boosting. The Cards will stay in the Tar Heel State for the third match in a row as they take on UNC tomorrow. The match in Chapel Hill will get underway at 1PM and be available on the ACC Network Extra.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
We're back this week with another episode of the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast. We'll still be without Daryl for a few weeks longer, but she should return once we're in the thick of basketball season. We're sorting out what the show will look like with Louisville football's upcoming noon kickoffs but things will be normal this week as we talk volleyball, field hockey, and the opening women's basketball scrimmage. 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!