WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
AS THE WOMEN'S FALL SPORTS at UofL begin to wind down, let's look at the three major ones we've spent the majority of our time covering here at Cardinal Couple this summer and autumn. Three scenarios, each different, are in play for Women's Soccer, Field Hockey and Volleyball.
This Cardinals fall sport is in the book and the results weren't exactly what the fan base expected or was happy with. UofL women's soccer went 4-9-5 overall and 3-5-2 in ACC play. The Cards did not play in the ACC Women's Soccer post season tournament and there was a lot of open speculation on how the squad could improve for next season, what needed to be done.and if personnel and staff changes were needed.
One thing is clear, and that is that the squad needs a significant boost in scoring for 2024. With just one goal in their first four games in 2023, it was pretty clear early on that scoring was a problem area out on the Lynn Stadium pitch, and answers were needed. And, as the season progressed, it was becoming evident that the squad was having no luck at picking up a road win.
Huckabee, Geigle, Cochran, Wik and Gaiber are, as far as we know, are returning next season and one has to hope that they'll benefit from the season of playing together and find a legitimate and proficient scorer out of the bunch. Or, maybe a freshman sensation comes in and shows she is a scorer, Your top squads in DI have several high profile scorers, maybe UofL could develop or find a few, as well.
When you average less that one goal a game for a season, that's a pretty big red flag indication that improvement is needed. The Cards defense, in retrospect, wasn't all that bad. But, let's face it, losses early on, particularly to Xavier and Dayton, were maybe an early warning that it wasn't going to be a great season for the Kickin' Cards.
Some lessons may have been learned near the end of the season, the Cards did go 2-2-1 in their final five games...all against ACC foes and two top 25 programs.
We can only hope the late season signs of life roll over to next fall. And score, baby, score.
We do know that Field Hockey has made it in to another NCAA Tournament, knocked off some pretty legitimate foes in the regular season and spent the majority of the season in the NCAA DI Top 10. All plus marks for a program that had consistently performed well in the Justine Sowry years,
What will the NCAA postseason tournament provide? The Cards start it off at Northwestern and will take on Iowa, a team they faced, and fell to in the regular season. The 2-1 loss to the #6 Hawkeyes wasn't as close as the score indicates, Louisville didn't score until the final 10 seconds of the contest. If the Cards can turn the tables on Iowa this time around, they'll face (most likely) Northwestern but possibly Miami (OH) or California. And, Northwestern is a bit salty these days, After losing to Louisville early in the season, the Wildcats ran off 18 wins in a row but were ranked as the #2 TEAM in DI, behind UNC.
The Cards 14-6 season was right around where our Cardinal Couple "experts" figured they would finish. Not many gave the Cards a chance to defeat UNC or Duke. The Syracuse loss was a bit disappointing and that three goal loss a head-scratcher, The loss to App. State.at end of the season was unexpected and disappointing. Yes, losses have plagued the Stick Girls over the past couple of years at the end of regular season and early in conference and NCAA tournament play. It would be nice to see the Cards turn that around and win two in a row to make a Final Four.
Nice but not likely. The Cards will need consistent scoring from the Plumb sisters, Emilia Kaczmarczyk, Tyler Everslage and Julie Kouijzer. They'll need to limit what's scored on them, and they'll need to perk up from the rut of just scoring a single goal against everybody but Boston College as the seaason wore down. I'll say it here, too. Score, baby score.
TIME to fly, Flock.
At 21-3 and in a four way tie for the top spot in the ACC, one would look at the volleyball season so far and see a huge success. And the nation, thinks so, Louisville is #5 in the standings
Being a top five squad in DI and the highest ranked out of all the ACC schools in NCAA DI rankings is a great accolade. even though the VolleyCards have looked less than stellar in their last few matches, they hadn't lost since the first of October, before stumbling against Georgia Tech.
#8 Georgia Tech. Hey, sometimes you lose top 10 matches, especially when you are the road team
The next (and final) four matches in the regular season will be crucial. UNC, at Duke, Georgia Tech and Pitt.. Three at home are helpful.
The VolleyCards are definitely in the the NCAA postseason tournament, They're playing for seeding and alignment right now. A sweep of these final four might be a tall task to ask, but you would think that accomplishment might just propel them into a top four spot and plenty of hosting opportunities in the NCAA Tournament. Right up to the Final Four, which is in sunny Tampa this year
Louisville has a squad laden with star power and some of the best players in the nation. They are well-coached and have a very favorable home-court advantage. In fact, two of them.
The only questions here are who, if anyone, stops them on their march to the Final Four and can they win one more game than last year's tournament run?
I wouldn't bet against them...