Louisville Soccer advances to Sweet 16

The University of Louisville soccer team continues to dream big, despite driving rain on Sunday and lots of ups and downs during the season.

Freshman Tim Kubel scored in the 87th minute and Ken Lolla’s team is advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA Soccer Tournament with a 2-1 win over St. Louis University Sunday.

UofL is one of five Atlantic Coast Conference teams to make the round, along with Notre Dame, North Carolina, Virginia and Syracuse. Still another ACC team could be there if Clemson wins against Coastal Carolina in a game that was postponed until Monday because of inclement weather.

Louisville will square off against Maryland-Baltimore, which defeated Maryland 1-0 at College Park, Md. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. at at Lynn Stadium next Sunday.


Russ there when Louisville needs him against St. Louis

Saint Louis has finally made the game ugly enough to go ahead 29-27, with the University of Louisville missing its first 10 shots in the second half.

During those five and a half minutes, Stephan Van Treese blowing a point blank tip in, Chris Jones clunking on three attempts, including a layup, Montrezl Harrell missing three beneath the basket, Luke Hancock ricoheting three three-point attempts while committing two turnovers, and Russ Smith, playing with a thumb wrapped in tape, air balling a three-point attempt.

The outlook not good at this point for the defending national champions. Going downhill fast.

Rick Pitino has seen enough. Time out.

Russ Smith, his eyes glazed, his body aching, his thumb no longer wrapped in tape, somehow asserting himself, connecting on a floating jumper in front of the basket to tie the score. Stepping to the free throw line 40 seconds later, sinking two free throws to put UofL back in front. An absolutely critical sequence, Russ, the catalyst, ensuring it happens.

Not to be overlooked during the turn-around is a rare reverse layup for Stephan Van Treese.

A nice recovery by Russ after an error-plagued first half during which he is committing a career high six turnovers in one half and making one of four field goal attempts. He would, however, come through with five assists in the second half, three of them to Luke Hancock, and have a total of seven assists to go with his seven turnovers and 11 points .

Hancock, feeling the Saint Louis pressure, awkward at times, kicking or turning the ball over three times. Making two of his four three-pointers, both of them assists from Russ Smith, at crunch time.  He would have three assists and three steals with 21 points on his stats line as well.

Montrezl Harrell, hoping to meet one of those offensive-minded opponents sometime during the tournament, finally getting his only basket stuffer with 55 seconds left in the game. Harrell should get his wish in the Sweet 16 against either Wichita State or Kentucky.

Six days for Russ Smith to recuperate, hopefully returning to a full semblance of himself.

End Of The Beginning

And So It Ends …

By Sonja Sykes

And it comes to an end. A magical season, by the Lady Cards, much, much more than anyone expected, and the best in Louisville women’s basketball history.

A brave final try against a superior opponent.  It was an all-out effort for Jeff Walz and crew. No answer inside for the beastly Tina Charles, the precise passing, the skills of a better opponent.  Angel McCoughtry on her game early, until the defensive pressure and the solid fundamentals of the Huskies shut her down. An effort better than the previous two against the juggernaut but not enough.

Hopes were high, ambitions great, the path unexpected and unheralded.

No shame in this, no regret, no griping about missed opportunities. Giving their best shot, and falling short.  The best team won, just what the ESPN crews expected and obviously wanted. Hoping here against hope for an upset. Not getting it but not quitting or giving up. I love this team.

I turned the sound off at the start of the game, preferring to watch the game as it unfolded not influenced by commentator dialogue. Sorry Jim Kelch and Adrienne Johnson, didn’t even tune you in. What I saw and observed is a better team overcoming early difficulties and establishing their abilities to beat the team I love, wanted to win. It saddens me, but I am still very proud of these girls.

Make no apologies for this game. Praise and hold this Lady Cards dear to our hearts. They were the kids no one expected to be there, and got to this final venue with grit, determination and heart.

Sometimes, sadly…that isn’t enough.

… Jeff Walz Just Getting Started

By Charlie Springer

Time to confess. This observer wrote this University of Louisville women’s basketball team off before the season started.

The moment Chauntise Wright went down with a busted knee, a defining moment, signaling that a national championship was out of reach. No doubt, especially for a program that had never been in sniffing distance of the Final Four.

But a growing fan base became enraptured with this team, embracing the bandwagon jumpers, the fans, young and old, nearly filling Freedom Hall on two separate occasions, more than 5,000 of them making the journey to St. Louis.

Even the knuckleheads who thumb their noses at women’s basketball were unable to avert their eyes.

Somehow, some inexplicable way, Jeff Walz guided this team to a 34-5 won-lost record and into the national championship game.

Angel McCoughtry. Candyce Bingham. Huge contributors.

Deseree Byrd. Still doesn’t remotely resemble a point guard but she knows how to manage the game when Louisville isn’t playing one of the greatest women’s teams to ever take the court.

Six freshman learning the ropes, absorbing what it takes to get all the way to the final game.

As Angel McCoughtry said on Senior Night, “This is not an ending. It’s a beginning.”

Quite a coaching job by Jeff Walz.

And he’s only just begun.

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