Louisville Beats UConn, Clinches Big East Tourney Berth
from Press Release
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After a very long and overwhelmingly successful road trip, Louisville returned to the place it's most comfortable -- at home in time to notch a program-record seventh straight win.
Fueled by a standout performance from freshman goalkeeper Ashley Peacock and Faye Brust's five scores, No. 18 Louisville posted a 12-7 victory over BIG EAST foe Connecticut on Friday afternoon at the UofL Lacrosse Stadium. Louisville took advantage of the picturesque day, clinching one of the four spots for the conference tournament held in Washington, D.C. on May 1 and 3.
"I am incredibly proud of this team," head coach Kellie Young said. "One of the things that have gotten in our way in past years is the fear that we played with. We knew we were good. We knew we could execute. We didn't have the confidence to finish out a game.
"The team chose the word 'finish' this year. We want to be confident to the very last minute. Our defense was executing and our attack was executing."
Peacock, who made her first collegiate start in just her sixth game of the season, tallied seven saves and allowed just seven scores against a Connecticut team that was averaging nearly 11 goals a game. The Crofton, Md., native also was extremely efficient out of the cage, forcing two turnovers and picking up a team-high four ground balls.
"The maturity that Ashley showed coming in was amazing, because you think a first year who had maybe only seen 60 minutes on the field would be a little rattled," Young said. "But she was tired of being babied. She said, 'You guys, I am fine. I have got this. The more you talk about it, the more nervous I get.' That helped her teammates feel confident that in what she was going to be able to do. She stepped up and showed confidence coming in. It was a complete performance."
Louisville, amid one of its best seasons in the program's seven-year history, boasts an 11-3 record and remains undefeated in league action at 5-0 after superior play in the second half.
In a low-scoring period that saw just seven combined goals, the Cardinals recorded four unanswered scores to begin the second. Cortnee Daley registered the first two scores, the first on an assist from Nikki Boltja, before Boltja tallied her third goal of the game, and Kaylin Morissette, who had five draw controls, capped the run on a free-position score.
Connecticut (8-6, 3-2) netted its first goal in nearly 13 minutes - its first of the half - at the 7:12 mark. After bringing the Huskies within five at 11-6, Kacey Pippitt scored her second-consecutive goal at the 1:35 mark to cut the deficit to four.
But Louisville's defense kept Connecticut at bay and scoreless for the remainder of the period. The Cardinals' held Connecticut to just six shots while forcing the Huskies into 11 turnovers. Daley led the back line with three caused turnovers, improving her team-leading total to 20.
The Huskies tried to set the tempo quickly to begin the game, scoring in record-pace fashion. After winning the draw, Jacqueline Jordan took the ball from the midfield and ran through Louisville's defense, firing one past Peacock to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead 10 seconds into the contest.
Brust then took over, registering four scores within the first 11 minutes of the game. She gave Louisville a 2-1 lead, and then after Connecticut tied the game, she added two more scores - one as she was falling to the ground - to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead, one they never relinquished.
The Cardinals and Huskies scored three goals apiece for the duration of the half, putting Louisville in front 7-5 at the break.
Louisville received solid all-around play from multiple individuals. Monica Negron finished with five draw controls and three ground balls, Leslee Hefner collected three ground balls, and Anna Kopecka came off the bench and earned her second assist of the year.
Boltja's three goals gave her sole possession of second place on the school's career chart, passing Liz Lovejoy, with 177 goals. With her four points in the win, the Medina, Ohio, native moved into a tie for third on the school's career chart for points with 207.
The victory also was sweet for assistant coach Crysti Foote, who celebrated her birthday prior to the game.
Louisville returns to action on Saturday for Senior Day against Rutgers. The program will honor its nine seniors prior to first draw, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.
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