Women's Soccer Advances with 2-0 Triumph at No. 5 Memphis

 
Freshman Zakiya McIntosh scored a goal in Friday's win.

Freshman Zakiya McIntosh scored a goal in Friday's win.

Nov. 18, 2011

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Louisville women's soccer team continued its greatest post-season run ever with a 2-0 victory at No. 5 Memphis in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Championship on a cool Friday night at Mike Rose Soccer Complex.

With the victory, the Cardinals set a school record for wins while improving to 14-6-3 overall and advanced to a third round match Sunday at 3 p.m., ET against No. 1 seed and ninth-ranked Florida State, a 3-1 winner over Portland in game one of Friday's second round doubleheader. Live video and play-by-play for the UofL-FSU match will be provided free of charge online through NCAA.com, GoTigersGo.com and UofLSports.com. Live scoring for the match will be available through the Gametracker feature at UofLSports.com.

Friday's win was also Louisville's first ever victory against an opponent ranked in the top five nationally as Memphis was fifth in the NSCAA coaches' poll. Friday's loss was the first of the season for the Tigers, who finish 2011 with a 22-1-1 record overall.

"I think the year has been magical, but what creates years like this is the players that you have," said Louisville head coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes. "We have a very, very special group. We aren't defined by individual players; we're actually defined by our unit. They enjoy being around each other from the first player on the team to the 30th player on the team--at practice, at dinner, wherever. I think it shows that we play for each other."

The two teams battled to a scoreless first half despite multiple scoring chances for Louisville in the first 10 minutes. After the halftime break, Memphis increased its number of attacks with U of L senior goalkeeper Chloe Kiefer (Whitefish Bay, Wis./Divine Saviour HS) turning away three good scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half. With the Tigers in heavy pursuit offensively, the Cardinals were able to convert on a scoring chance for the first goal of the night with less than 22 minutes left in the game.

After Louisville controlled a ball in the midfield and pushed forward with an attack, freshman midfielder Kim Sharo (New Windsor, N.Y./Cornwall HS) took a crossing pass from freshman midfielder Erin Yenney (Troy, Ohio/Troy HS), which was misplayed and went over the head of Memphis goalkeeper Elis Kuhar-Pitters inside the box. Sharo then headed it into the left side of the goal for a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute and her third goal of the season. The assist for Yenney was her third of the season.

"I thought we started fast, we started strong and that was something we wanted to do, but even though we had some great chances to score, we weren't able to convert in the first half," said Louisville head coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes. "The momentum shifted in the favor of Memphis to end the first half and to start the second half, they most certainly had the momentum. Ironically, we scored both of our goals against the run of play in that second half. I think the first goal we scored slowed them down a little bit, which gave us a little bit of breathing room, while the second one really iced the game."

With the first goal of the night, Louisville seized control of the momentum and continued its aggressive attack late in the second half. The aggression paid off for the Cardinals in the 76th minute when freshman forward Zakiya McIntosh (Ajax, Ont., Canada/Pickering HS) scored inside the left post on a diving header following a perfect crossing pass from freshman Casey Whitfield (Louisville, Ky./Manual HS) for the final 2-0 margin. The goal for McIntosh was the first of her career, while the assist for Whitfield was her second of the season.

"I think we kind of took the momentum a little bit after having a goal under our belts," said Kiefer following the game. "Confidence wise, we knew we were okay and could kind of take a deep breath. But, Memphis didn't stop coming at us. Obviously, they played till the very last minute, and we had to defend well. We couldn't take a second off from them."

Kiefer and the Louisville backline closed out the Cardinals' second straight shutout with more outstanding defense during the final 13 minutes of action to clinch the win. Kiefer finished the night with four saves en route to her ninth shutout of the season. Kuhar-Pitters finished with three saves in the losing effort for the Tigers.

"The backline is a group that flies under the radar," said Ferguson-Dayes. "It's not that there's one specific player that stands individually but the strength of the backline is the backline. They're really good one-v-one defenders. They do a good job covering each other. They do a good job clearing. And those are the things they've prided themselves on since the first game of the season. We've continually gotten better and tonight was proof of that."

Overall, Memphis finished with a 14-12 advantage in shots, while the Cardinals had a 5-4 edge in shots on-goal. Louisville had a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks and the Cardinals were whistled for nine fouls to the Tigers' four.

Louisville Postgame Notes
- With its 14th win of the season on Friday, the Cardinals set a new school record for wins surpassing the previous best mark of 13 set in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007.

- Friday's match was the 10th all-time in the series between the former conference foes. With the win, the Cardinals trail 3-6-1 overall and have won two of the last three.

- Friday marked the first time since their 5-0 first round loss to Oklahoma State in the 2010 NCAA Championship that the Tigers have been shutout.

- The Cardinals have lost only twice in their last 17 games overall and both of those losses came against teams which advanced to the NCAA Championship.

- With the win, Louisville improves to 2-1-1 in NCAA Championship games. Prior to its two wins in this year's tournament, the Cardinals had never won an NCAA Championship game. In 2007, the Cardinals dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime decision to Illinois in a first round game in Notre Dame, Ind. In the program's first ever NCAA appearance in 2006, U of L played Duke to a scoreless draw in Knoxville, Tenn., before falling 5-4 in penalty kicks.

- Friday's victory was career win No. 104 for Louisville head coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes, who is the Cardinals' all-time winningest coach.

- With her 90 minutes of work on Friday, Chloe Kiefer set a new school record for goalkeeper minutes with 2,182 minutes this season. While playing every minute of every game in goal this season, she surpassed the previous school record of 2,110 set by former All-American Joanna Haig in 2007.

- The Cardinals are the only remaining BIG EAST Conference team in the 2011 NCAA Championship after Marquette suffered a 4-1 loss to Penn State on Friday. The BIG EAST started the event with four teams as both West Virginia and Notre Dame were eliminated in the first round last weekend.

 

 

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