Loyola Starts Fresh, Rallies Past Louisville
|Taryn VanThof had a goal and two assists, helping Loyola win its Big East opener against Louisville, 11-6, on Friday night.|
BALTIMORE -- After a three-game losing streak, Loyola coach Jen Adams told her players to treat their Big East opener against Louisville like a new season. So that's what they did. The Greyhounds rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Louisville 11-6 for a spirited conference win.
"We're starting over. This whole week, all we did was worry about Louisville. We didn't worry about the past, and that really helped us, especially in this game," sophomore attacker Hannah Schmitt said. Schmitt led the team with four goals and an assist. Overall, 10 of Loyola's 11 goals came from the sophomore class.
"I'm quick to forget, as a coach, how young this group really is. This is a team that is going to get better and better," Adams said. "I know we're good enough to win these games and I know we have the talent on the field. It's about finding the chemistry and, I think, continuing to grow."
Originally ranked in the top 10 nationally, Loyola hit a tough midseason skid. The Greyhounds lost to No. 2 Florida 16-7 on March 5, then dropped back-to-back one-goal games to unranked Delaware and James Madison. Loyola's season needed a reboot, and they got against the Cardinals (7-2).
Louisville struck first, racing to a 3-0 lead. It took more than 15 minutes for the Greyhounds to get on the board, but they finally did when Schmitt scored on a high outside shot at 14:03. By halftime, the Cardinals led 5-3, but the Greyhounds were starting to show some spark. The final goal of the period came when freshman goalie Molly Wolf came way out of the crease to retrieve a loose ball, creating a possession that resulted in a fast break goal for Schmitt. Wolf finished with 8 saves, and in the second half, she and the rest of the defense held Louisville to a single goal.
"We came out wanting to step on their necks. We wanted to finish the game strongly. We were all pretty amped coming out of the locker room, so it all just came together," Wolf said.
Better shooting from the Loyola attack helped, too. The Greyhounds score just 3 goals on 11 shots in the first half.
" I said, 'Put the ball in the back of the net.' That is really what I said," said Adams, when asked about her halftime adjustments.
As the game wore on, Louisville got frustrated and chippy. The Cardinals committed 21 of its 30 fouls in the second half. Both junior midfielder Hillary Bushway and junior defender Leslee Hefner picked up second yellow cards during the second period and had to leave the game. Nikki Boltja and Erika Eipp led Louisville with two goals each. It was a deflating loss for the Cardinals, whose 7-1 start to the season tied a program record.
"Meltdown. There's no other way to say it," Louisville coach Kellie Young said. "We are as good as them on our best day. Our first half, that's who we've been, and we didn't show that the second half. We have two kids who are in their fifth and sixth years with us because of ACLs, and their mission is to win Big East. If they're going to win it, we need to win these games. And we didn't get that done."
Loyola was comparatively restrained on fouls (17), although junior midfielder Marlee Paton did pick up two yellow cards and missed the last 24:25 minutes of the game. It was the first time in 34 games that Paton finished without a point, although Adams looked the bright side of things.
"It's nice to know we can win, even without Marlee. This team has the depth to finish," she said.
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