It was a hard fought game last night between the Cats and Cards from a crowded Lynn Stadium that ultimately saw Kentucky win the game through strong counter play and ruthless efficiency.
The Cards took hold of the match right from the first whistle, knocking it around UK’s final third. They had their breakthrough in the 8th minute when Jill Vetere played a great searching ball into Sarah Feola who got behind the Kentucky back line and poked it by Evangeline Soucie in goal. UK started to find their way into the match after that, getting some decent possession of their own but not materializing a real chance. The Cards nearly doubled their advantage in the 17th minute when Vetere found some space at the top of the box but put it just over. The 'Girls in White' were firing on all cylinders and had a firm grasp on their 1-0 lead.
A couple hard challenges in the closing stages of the half really raised the energy of the game, and both teams found another gear. UK stole a goal in the 32nd minute after a failed clearance left Louisville goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin off her line and UK's Tanya Smarzich lobbed it into the net to level things. UK had the run of things mostly to themselves after that, motivated after bagging the equalizer. They got a corner kick in the 34th minute, and a scuffle in the box saw a UK player end up on the ground. After a consultation with his assistant referee, Abdu Bensalah awarded yellows to both Jill Vetere for Louisville and Kaitlin Miller for the Wildcats. Surprisingly, these were the only bookings of the competition. Things would go into the break level.
The Louisville squad must have gotten a stern talking-to during the halftime break because they came out of the intermission looking to recapture the lead, and they controlled the first passage of the second period. But UK made good on a counter attack and drew a corner in the 51st minute that led to a loose ball in the box that Kaitlin Miller got ahold of and slid it by Bucklin.
The game once again seemed to find another level as it ticked over the hour mark, and UofL looked the better team, garnering a catalogue of chances in the UK defensive third. Allison Whitfield got several promising chances, most notably in the 65th minute from 15 yards out that called Soucie into action for UK. The effort was knocked down and corralled. The closest the Cards ever got to equalizing was in the 74th minute when a player got her head on a corner, only to be cleared off the line. UK followed that serendipitous bit of defending with a deadly counterattack that led to a goal courtesy of Zoe Swift. The Cards saw out the remaining quarter hour valiantly but UK parked the bus and saw out the win.
On the day in just about any given passage UofL looked the better team, although UK had a monopoly on the counterattack. The Cards got 18 shots to UK’s 7, 7 corners to their 3 but crucially just 1 save to Kentucky’s 6. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you look the best team through most of the game but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
UofL takes on Harvard on Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m., at Lynn Stadium.