LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville field hockey team had to wait about an hour longer before playing their first NCAA Final Four game because of thunderstorms in the Chapel area Hill Friday afternoon, and the wait was not once the skies were clear.
Louisville fought 1-1 in settlement, forcing overtime on an Emilia Kaczmarczyk goal from a penalty corner with just over a minute to go. They persevered through the first 10-minute overtime period and then a second.
In the shooting, Louisville appeared to be in trouble. Michigan climbed 3-1 on the penalty shootout and Wolverines goaltender Anna Spieker, who had allowed just two goals in the last 11 games, looked rock solid. Then Louisville goaltender Sam Minrath closed the door, and two back-to-back Louisville scores tied the score at 3-3.
But a failure from Louisville’s Meghan Schneider on the Cardinals’ next attempt, and a conversion from Michigan’s Katie Peterson, sneaking a shot just around Minrath’s left foot for the game-winner, gave the Wolverines the 2-1 victory. (4-3 in shootout). . Michigan, the tournament’s second seed, will face North Carolina on Sunday in the National Championship game at Chapel Hill.
Louisville, the third seed in the overall standings, finishes as the only team to beat North Carolina in the past three seasons, but just before another crack at the Tar Heels.
“Making a Final Four is something our players have always dreamed of and have been working on for many, many years now,” said Louisville coach Justine Sowry. “So I’m really proud to get to this point. We came up against a formidable formation from Michigan. We knew it was going to be difficult. And then praise them. They are well trained. They are excellent from top to bottom. But I’m incredibly proud of our student-athletes and what they’ve been through one season. It’s been a long season. Two seasons (fall and spring). We have stayed together as a unit, as a team, as a coaching staff, and I’m really very proud. We are very disappointed. It’s heartbreaking to lose a game like this. But we have achieved a lot.
The Cardinals played with initiative throughout, despite being 1-0 behind from an Anouk Veen corner penalty of just 4:34 in the third quarter. Michigan, which failed to attempt a shot in the first half, only had two shots in regulation. Louisville had seven, including six penalty corners in the fourth quarter, with Kaczmarczyk converting in the last.
Louisville and Michigan then played evenly for two 10-minute overtime periods, before the shootout drama.
“My hat has left for Louisville. What a great, well-trained team. They gave us everything we could manage and we were lucky enough to pass. Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. “It’s not an easy thing to get marked at the last minute and then go into overtime and not deflate. I was really proud of my team for that.
The late fireworks display came after a first half in which neither team was able to land a shot, and both entered the game averaging 13 shots per game.
Louisville frustrated Michigan with its pressure on the top, but couldn’t generate a good chance itself.
Still, it was a demon exorcising season for Louisville, as they have been doing lately. They won their first game of the NCAA tournament a year ago. Two years ago, they won their first ACC tournament game. In the fall, they got their big win – and national attention – for beating North Carolina. And to reach the Final Four, they won a decisive victory over former Big East rival, Connecticut.
“Our program has been built at this time for years and years and I think it will continue to grow,” said Schneider. “Reaching the Final Four for the first time was something incredible for us, with all the things that we struggled with, with what everyone in the world struggled with.
And now, Sowry said, his players know firsthand what it will take to get back.
“We now have that confidence in each other and in what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said. “We have confidence in our preparation and in what we do every day … We have a taste of it now, and there is absolute belief among our women and our coaching staff and we hope we can use it. like a catapult into the next season and other seasons. “
The Cardinals end the season at 14-6, including a 5-2 record in the fall.
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