Tag Archives: Derek Brightwell

Photo by Austin Lassell

U of L, the only school with a women’s lacrosse stadium boasts true home field advantage

By Derek Brightwell

It is well known that U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich has always done his best to give his programs the top facilities in the nation. But what you may not know is that he has given the lacrosse team something that only they can boast. Out of every university that has a women’s lacrosse program U of L is the only school that has a designated enclosed women’s lacrosse stadium.

The program, led by head coach Kellie Young, is winding down its seventh year as a program and in that small time frame has already risen to being a top 20 team. Young attributes some of that growth to their top-notch facilities.

“It’s allowed us to attract great recruits,” she said, noting the impact it had specifically on the first class. “It showed a real commitment from Tom to the success he wanted the program to have.”

But bringing in the recruits is only one part of building this program up. The facilities help the players to get better once they’re on campus.

“I definitely think the facility has helped us so much because we’re able to have the things we need when we want,” sophomore midfielder Courtnee Daley said. “The extra work is the biggest impact because that’s what makes teams better than other teams. We can shoot by ourselves, work on footwork and visualize the game on a field. It has a huge impact and the fact that we have that anytime is a huge bonus.”

The athletic aspects of the facilities are hard to deny and obvious to see; but perhaps the biggest benefit of them is in the academic side of the student-athlete’s lives. In addition to the locker rooms, training facilities and coaches offices, the impressive YUM! Center also includes a study hall and academic advising offices. These benefits may be overlooked by potential recruits on their first visit to campus but are never missed by parents.

“It impacts the parents more than the students, honestly,” Coach Young said of the recruiting power of academics. “The players are just amazed by the University of Louisville, but the parents see that they’ll be able to pursue any degree they want and we can work lacrosse around their lives so they don’t need to sacrifice their studies.”

“I get the classes I need and the tutors I want,” Daley explained. “ And I don’t have to worry about a schedule change because other teams need the facility. I know exactly when practice will be and I can schedule my academics around that.”

It doesn’t take long for the players to realize the benefits of having everything they need all within a short walk of each other.

“I usually study for an hour, go shoot for half an hour and the come back and study,” sophomore midfielder Kaylin Morissette mentions. “It’s nice to have that balance. You don’t have to go to six different places.”

The stadium represents Jurich’s commitment to not only lacrosse but also all of the athletic programs at U of L as he has built the school into one of the top athletic programs in the nation.

“The great thing about Tom is that he supports our programs and our student athletes,” Young said of her AD. “And he does it the best I’ve ever seen. Our players get the same treatment as football and basketball. We get the same medical treatment, the same academic support; we get the same access to facilities and equipment. We get the best of what we need to perform at our best.”

That support is not lost on the players, either.

“I could tell they are dedicated to making it one of the best programs in the nation,” Daley remembers from her recruitment period. “That was very impressive and helped me to come here.”

In a season that was loaded with road games, the team feels proud to have what they have back home.

“I feel like sometimes we forget how privileged we are,” Daley said. “Especially this season when we traveled so much and we were getting ready to practice and there’d be either football or soccer or field hockey. We can practice anytime we want and we don’t have to worry about other teams and not a lot of teams are able to do that.”

The sophomore midfielder Morissette sums up the facility and life in Louisville athletics pretty well.

“It’s great,” she said. “You can’t ask for anything better.”

Photo by Austin Lassell

Lacrosse defeats Georgetown

By Derek Brightwell

The University of Louisville Lacrosse team opened up their Big East schedule with a 14-13 upset victory at No. 14 Georgetown on Saturday, improving their record to 7-3 on the season.

The Cardinals were led in goals by junior Faye Brust, who had five, three coming in the second half including the Cardinals final two goals. Her 34 goals on the year are just six less than her total from her first two seasons, with six games still remaining in the 2014 season.

The victory marks the first time in eight games that the Cardinals defeated the Hoyas and was the second win over a Top 20 opponent this season.

Senior Nikki Boltja increased her team high point total with three goals and two assists in the game, giving her 52 points on the year, 40 of which are goals.

One of the biggest keys for the Cardinals all year has been sophomore Kaylin Morissette’s draw control ability; she tied her own school single-game record 11 in the win over Saturday to put her season total at a school record 82.

Despite Georgetown (3-6, 0-1) only having the lead for a total of 15 seconds in the game, Louisville was never able to pull ahead comfortably until Brust gave them a three goal lead in the final 12 minutes that the Hoyas couldn’t overcome.

Louisville continues their five game road trip in Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats on Sunday, Arpril 6th. They’ll return to home to close out their season with three straight home games on April 17th against UConn.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Senior Nikki Boltja stepping up for Lacrosse team

By Derek Brightwell

Nikki Boltja could leave the University of Louisville as the school’s most decorated lacrosse player. As a junior, she was named a third-team All-American and a first team All-Region. She is a highly efficient scorer and electric on the field. So it may be a surprise to find that she is every bit as quiet off of the field as she is explosive on it.

Boltja started playing lacrosse in the seventh grade, which in Ohio is the youngest you can start playing it. In high school she was a standout at not only lacrosse but also cross-country and track. Her choice of lacrosse over those two came down to one simple fact.

“It’s more fun than running cross-country,” she said laughing.“ I just like lacrosse more than running.”

For Boltja, lacrosse is a family tradition. Her father, Tom Boltja, played lacrosse as well as her two sisters. That family support was vital for her starting out.

“It was really important. I could always play with my sisters or practice with my dad and he knew enough to teach me how to play. I played with my sisters in high school, so I always had someone to catch and throw with and learn how to play at home, away from practice.”

In her final year with the Cardinals, Boltja doesn’t feel the pressure that comes with being an All-American.

“I don’t think I expect anything different from myself,” she says with a smile.

An explosive offensive threat, tallying 22 goals and five assists in the team’s first five games, Boltja recognizes that offense alone doesn’t win championships.

“I mean, you get more attention if you score goals, but the caused turnovers and ground balls are what win us games,” Boltja said. “Anyone can score a goal.”

It is that kind of selfless mentality that strikes you when you talk with her. Her low-key mentality is perfectly embodied with her story of why she chose to play for the Cardinals.

“I didn’t know a lot about it,” she said, looking out over the Lacrosse Stadium. “But it’s close to where I live, so that kind of made the decision. But I’m glad I came here.”

She joins a program that’s still in its early years, but already is gaining national attention. Only seven years into its existence, the University of Louisville has already had two players named All-Americans, with Boltja being the second. Currently, the team ranks just outside of the Top 20.

“It’s important that we’re competing with those teams,” Boltja said of the team’s growth into a nationally recognized program. “We need to be one of those top teams if we want to go far in the tournament.”

The growth can be attributed to head coach Kellie Young, who has been at U of L for all seven years the program has existed.

“She’s constantly pushing all of us to get better so we never settle,” remarked Boltja of her only collegiate coach. “She always looks for areas we can improve and always gives feedback. So it’s good to have somebody constantly telling you how you can get better.”

Boltja and the Cardinals currently rank 8th nationally in points and are looking to continue their strong performance.

 

Lacrosse returns from weekend road trip 3-1

By Derek Brightwell

The Cards turned in a strong road performance at Old Dominion with a 15-12 win Friday and an 18-5 win at

William & Mary on Sunday, securing their first road victories of the season.

At Old Dominion the Cards relied on another strong performance from senior All-American Nikki Boltja. She

led an aggressive offensive attack for the Cards who had three different runs of scoring three or more unanswered

goals.

Boltja scored five goals on Friday and seven on Sunday, pushing her total to 20 on the season. But the Cards

maintained an offensive balance throughout the weekend with a total of six players scoring against Old Dominion

and William & Mary. Balance is key for Louisville moving ahead.

“A balanced offense is tough to beat,” head coach Kellie Young said. “Nikki was solid again and along with her

were huge efforts from Faye Brust and Courtnee Daley.”

Brust scored five times, giving her ten on the year and Daley’s three in each game put her at ten for the year.

The depth of the team has been a pleasant surprise for the coaching staff, with at least five different players

scoring in each of their first four games.

“Courtnee Daley has been a beast for us, so solid and consistent,” Young said of her sophomore midfielder. “Faye

Brust has found her game, impacting multiple areas of our game.”

This year the Cards schedule is overwhelmingly road-heavy, with only six of the 17 games coming at U of L.

“Travel makes us tougher,” Young remarked of the schedule. “A game like tonight at Old Dominion, when

we are playing a team in their home opener with tons of home field supporters in the stands brings great mental

toughness and a true effort in attacking the game play by play. As we get closer to post season, the experience on

the road will certainly help.”

One aspect of the game that the Cards have thrived at this year has been controlling the draw. Sunday’s win at

William & Mary was the third consecutive game in which they had 17 draw controls.

“Our draw possession has been consistent and possession of the ball drives the game,” said Young. “Having two

draw specialists has given the draw a different look for opponents to scout.”

The Cards are now 3-1 on the season; their next game is against Denver, March 1 at 1:00 pm.