March 6, 2014

Women's DI Notebook: Louisville Looking to Bounce Back

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Louisville has had a strong start, but needs to recover from a setback against Ohio State with a tough contest Saturday at Notre Dame. (Michelle Hutchins)

Something about this Louisville women's lacrosse team stands out from other squads Kellie Young has coached.

That's why she isn't worried about how her team will bounce back after a tough loss to Ohio State on Tuesday. The No. 18 Cardinals (4-2) gave up five consecutive goals in the second half and fell to the Buckeyes, 12-11. They next travel to play No. 15 Notre Dame on Saturday.

"We're a pretty dynamic team with lots of individuals contributing," Young said. "We're a really tight-knit family. They are a joy to coach. There are things to work on, like everyone – things to clean up from (Tuesday's) game -- but they are really coachable and wanting to get better."

Louisville, which was coming off an upset win over Denver, struggled to adjust to Ohio State's changes to a high-pressure defense at the end of the first half, and the midfielders "were getting lost in transition," Young said.

That led to the Buckeye's second-half run, but the Cardinals showed more tenacity in the final minutes – something Young believes they can build on going into Saturday's game against the Fighting Irish.

"The end of the game was huge," Young said. "We got that fire, we were aggressive and taking chances. That's the confidence we aspire to bring 60 minutes every game."

Nikki Boltja is one player the Cardinals don't have to worry about when it comes to aggressiveness. She leads the team with 26 goals and six assists, including four unassisted goals on Tuesday.

In addition to Boltja's continuity, Young especially has been pleased with the contributions of her first-year players who are quickly buying into what the coaching staff is teaching.

Now Young just hopes it all translates into greater things down the line. Louisville finished 11-6 last year but did not make the NCAA tournament.

"We've always felt our teams at Louisville have such great potential but have just fallen short," said Young, who is in her seventh season. "This team is different. I see the difference in the work they do when they are not in practice. In all my years, I've learned it's what you do when no one is watching that makes you great and builds championships.

"We saw at the beginning of the year, outside practice this team is special, they are a different breed," Young added. "They are committed to this mission. We've been very excited, and we hope to continue to raise the bar."

ONE-GOAL LOSSES

After a strong start, Loyola has lost three straight one-goal games and has another test coming up against Penn State on Saturday. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)

Loyola (No. 14, 2-3) grabbed some attention early on with back-to-back wins over Virginia and Princeton, but has since lost three straight games by one goal.

The latest shortcoming came in a 14-13 loss to No. 5 Florida, a game in which the Greyhounds had an upset in view before the Gators scored five unanswered goals to close it out. Loyola was held scoreless for the final 12 minutes, and Florida's Nora Barry scored the game-winning goal with 37 seconds left.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for Loyola. It plays at No. 11 Penn State on Saturday, before hosting No. 12 Towson on March 12.

QUICK SLANTS

Georgetown (No. 13, 3-1) is off to a strong start, highlighted by an upset win over Duke (No. 6, 3-3, 0-1 ACC) on the road Wednesday. Caroline Tarzian scored the game winner with five seconds left. The Hoyas went 2-1 during a three-game road stretch against ranked opponents, losing to Towson.

Maryland sophomore midfielder Taylor Cummings was named the ACC Player of the Week on Tuesday. She scored eight goals and added five assists over two games last week, including a 14-3 win over Hofstra and a 19-10 win over Duke.

In the midst of a brutal schedule, Virginia got a much-needed win March 1 when it beat Penn State 12-11. The Cavaliers were 1-3 going into the game and now prepare to face No. 1 North Carolina at home Saturday.


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