WSOC Beats #23 Memphis 3-2
It was an up and down night for Louisville women's soccer in Harrisonburg, Virginia as they took on the Memphis Tigers but it ended on the highest of highs with a 3-2 victory over the 23rd ranked team from down south. Louisville gets redemption after they dropped their ranked game at Lynn Stadium last week against Xavier, and they'll look to carry the momentum against the hosting James Madison Dukes on Sunday.
Fortunately, that wasn't the case, and it was Emersen Jennings--making her second start of the season opposite Patricia Ward--who got the scoring started. Jennings got her opportunity at the start of the sixth minute off a Maisie Whitsett assist and put the right-footed shot into the bottom left of the net. The goal was Jennings' first--of the season and her career--and it came on just her third shot. The assist was Whitsett's third of the season and it stretched her points lead over Karsyn Cherry.
The Cards kept the pressure on after the goal, earning a pair of corners, an offside call, and snagging a shot over the next six minutes. An offsides isn't a positive, per se, but it does show that the offense was working. Lizzie Sexton's shot was saved by the team, and momentum shifted slightly. Memphis was called for an offsides and a minute later forced Floyd into her second save of the night. On the next major charge, Maisie Whitsett nearly put the game squarely in Louisville's favor when she put a shot in the bottom right corner, but the Memphis keeper was able to make the save. After things calmed down a bit, Eef Kerkhof finished the job she had started a few minutes prior and tied the game at one in the 22nd minute.
The teams came out of the break a bit chippy, both committing fouls in the first four minutes. Louisville earned a corner in the 50th, but came away with nothing to show for it. After an early off-target shot by Cherry and the inability to grab another goal in the first half, things were looking dire against a ranked team. They looked even more dire five minutes later when Memphis earned a corner. The Tigers were unable to score on the set piece, but Louisville was equally unable to clear the ball. Once the chaos died down slightly, Momo Nakao sent a ball to the top right of the goal to give Memphis a 2-1 lead in the 57th minute.
Not to be discouraged, Louisville reacted immediately. Forty seconds later, the Cards earned a corner, and 30 seconds after that, Karsyn Cherry brought Whitsett's points lead down to one with her third goal of the season. Addie Chester provided the assist and the Cards had brought it back to a 2-2 draw with just over a half hour to play. With the new rules surrounding draws implemented this season, it will be interesting to watch how teams approach the position that Louisville found themselves in: tied in the second half against a ranked team. It wasn't quite late enough to park the bus, but this is a team (although with a different roster) that we've seen put nine players in the defensive third to start a game.
After all that, though, Louisville didn't have to do much deciding on how they wanted to play as the clock wound down. Instead, the Cards brought on fresh legs to start the 62nd minute and let them go to work. Two minutes later, one of those substitutes earned a free kick, and Louisville took advantage of the offensive opportunity. Not letting the ball get out of their attacking end, Anouk Denton found herself with an opportunity and hammered home the Cards' third goal (her first) to give them the lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Memphis didn't let the Cards go quietly. They earned a corner kick two minutes after the goal and another six minutes later. A Louisville foul in the 79th prompted more subs to bring the game home and Emersen Jennings' return to the pitch wasn't looked at very kindly by the referee. I'm unsure what she did or said, but Jennings snagged herself a yellow card just 16 seconds after coming back into the game. Given the surrounding events that all have the same timestamp, it could be inferred that she had thoughts about either the foul committed by Memphis or the offsides call on the ensuing free kick. Either way, not the way you want someone to come on with ten minutes left in a tight game. Memphis's next best chance came in the 83rd minute when they earned a corner kick and 20 seconds later drew a foul from Ravin Alexander. Louisville was able to escape without giving up a shot, and the last shot of the game would go to the Cards. Addie Chester put a shot toward goal to ice the game in the 88th but the attempt was blocked. Louisville got a corner out of it but couldn't produce another shot.
Memphis had one last dying breath, and it's among one of the scariest you can face, especially with no stoppage time and a hard draw rule. The Tigers earned a corner kick with 15 seconds remaining in the match: just enough time to sprint to the corner, get everyone (including your keeper) up to box and send one last hope in. The Cards prevented the shot and time ran out. Louisville wins 3-2.
Louisville will now turn their attention to James Madison for what will be just the second home game of the season for the Dukes. JMU opened the year with a draw at home against VCU before hitting the road to take wins over Morehead State, Charlotte, and La Salle. Their most recent game came on the road last night against Virginia while Memphis and Louisville occupied their home field. The Dukes played tough, holding the Cavaliers scoreless in the first half, but a penalty to open the second broke the seal and the fifth-ranked Hoos went on to win 2-0. JMU finished with no shots or corners on the night, and the penalty came on one of just two fouls they committed. Virginia, on the other hand, teed off on Alexandra Blom to the tune of 22 shots, but they were able to put just seven of them on target. Blom finished with five saves and two goals given up, with one of those being the penalty. Louisville will have some work to do to get past her Sunday. The match gets started at 1PM and will be available on ESPN+.
Volleyball and Field Hockey Back in Action
I'll have plenty to talk about Saturday when the results are in tomorrow, but let's take a quick look at the Friday matchups for the other two fall sports in play.
Until next time (tomorrow), Go Cards!