Nov. 14, 2006
Hello Cardinal Soccer Fans!
We had one of the most exciting weeks in the history of the program last week. After advancing to the 1st round of the NCAA tournament to play Duke, we traveled to Knoxville, TN on Thursday morning. Prior to departing campus, we had a special guest board the bus and give the team some words of encouragement. Rick Pitino, U of L basketball coach, who had been to four Final 4's, spoke to the team about the opportunity to play in the NCAA's and recounted a special year he had while at Providence... We arrived at 3:00 p.m. to a 75 degree, sunny Tennessee afternoon. After a brief training session we walked from the Marriott to Riverside Tavern, a four-star restaurant overlooking the Tennessee River.
Friday morning the team had breakfast and we headed over to the field for a walkthrough and to take penalty kicks. After that we had our pregame meal at the Olive Garden and headed back to the hotel to dress for the game. UofL administration had arranged for a send off party in the hotel. There was a buzz of energy as we exited the elevator and mingled with the crowd of over 50 people with UofL megaphones, wigs, banners, and UofL NCAA tournament t-shirts.
We boarded the bus at 4:15 for the short ride along the Tennessee River to Regal Stadium. As the stadium filled and the sun set in the distance, the excitement of the night continued to build. At 5:30 p.m., after 22 years of waiting, the University of Louisville had finally arrived in the NCAA Tournament. The first 10 minutes Duke had the better of the play and controlled much of the possession. The momentum of the half completely changed when we countered on a Jamie Craft breakaway. With Duke on their heels, the next 35 minutes went the Cards way. The best chance of the entire game for either team came for the Cards 25 minutes into the half. Jamie Craft burst down the left side, beat two defenders and slotted the ball across the 6 yard box to a streaking Lindsay Boling. Boling's shot just went wide of the right post. Two more good chances by Craft and the half ended 0-0.
The second half started the way the first half ended with the Cards getting two good opportunities in the first five minutes. The game then began to turn Duke's way. At the 55 minute mark Joanna Haig made one of three world class saves on a Duke attacker. At the end of regulation it was still tied 0-0. Overtime went back and forth and the game was headed to penalty kicks. Alternating PK's, best of 5 shooters. UofL shot first with Jamie Craft burying hers in the lower left corner. Duke matched. Then came Monique Gjini, Amy Seng, Tierney Lanich and Laura Walker. All of their shots were matched by Duke. The format now moved on to sudden death. Louisville defender Jessica Mello placed an almost perfect shot to the lower left corner, but the ball struck the post and went wide. Dukes 6th shooter calmly stepped up and played the ball just outside the reach of the outstretched Haig. Officially, a tie, but Duke advanced to the 2nd round. To tie a team with such significant NCAA tournament experience like Duke, in one of the most exciting games of the 1st round of the tournament, was a great accomplishment but it didn't take away the sting of not advancing on penalties. The extraordinary season was over. Many school records were set and many firsts were accomplished. The foundation has been set for Louisville to join the nation's elite group of top tier women's soccer programs....