Tag Archives: lacrosse

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.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Louisville lacrosse opens season with a win

By Derek Brightwell

The Cardinals lacrosse team started their home season with a strong 18-1 victory over the University of Detroit Mercy Sunday afternoon.

Led by sophomore midfielder Kaylin Morissette’s six goals, the Cards jumped out to an early 10 goal lead before surrendering the only UDM goal late in the first period, which they answered quickly with 2 more goals in the last minute and a half of the period.

The win came after a disappointing loss to number five Duke in which they also jumped out to a quick lead early. That loss played an important part of their mentality in their home opener.

“We played pissed off,” Morissette said. Morissette scored all six of her goals this season in the win. “We wanted to win against Duke. We fixed the things we had to and we came out strong. In the back of our minds we still had the loss in our heads but it’s the first game and you have to go on. We have 15 more games to prove ourselves.”

The game could be a coming out for the sophomore who struggled in the Duke loss.

“It’s night and day between this weekend and last weekend,” Head Coach Kellie Young said. “She really improved her game sense, her awareness of double pressure coming to her, moving the ball sooner.

Morissette will be an asset for Louisville’s Lacrosse team moving forward as she builds upon this strong performance.

“It’s important for her to gain that confidence, to build on her lax IQ, to make decisions that will help our team win. That will help us going into next year,” Young said.

For her part, Morissette already views herself as a leader on the field, but still looks to the team’s nine seniors.

“I learn everyday. Every practice, every game, I learn how they communicate with all the girls. How they get us pumped up,” Morissette said of the senior class, including all American Nikki Boltja. “When they graduate, I think our team will be set because they’ve done a great job leading the pack.”

The Cards had great performances all around, with four players scoring two goals: Morissette scored six, Boltja scored three, Cortnee Daley scored three, and Faye Brust scored two. Anna Kopecka, Hannah Koloski, Laura Patterson and Jamie Redding all added in one goal each. Boltja continued to build upon her great season, with a total of 8 goals and 2 assists in just the first two games.

The Cards also had a strong defensive showing, causing 10 of UDM’s 20 turnovers and only allowing the Titans to get off four shots. A showing that wasn’t good enough for Coach Young.

“We need to improve our defense, which I know sounds crazy when they only have one goal,” Young said. That’s a scary thought for U of L’s opponents the rest of the year.

The Cardinals look to build upon a promising season when they play at Old Dominion on Friday, February 21. They return home to play Denver on March 1 at 1:00 pm.

 

 

Louisville card head

Lacrosse allegations

By:  Michelle Lewis

Current and former women’s lacrosse players have jumped to Coach Kellie Young’s  defense after a front-page Louisville Courier-Journal story last week characterized her as abusive.

The team has only known one head coach. Young built the program from scratch. Last week some of her tactics were called into question by players and parents.

In a recent interview with The Cardinal conducted before the allegations, Coach Young had nothing but love for the university and her players. She expressed appreciation for the athletes and the parents who have been willing to take a risk on such a young program. Most of them, she said, came from New England where lacrosse is a much more popular sport.

The Courier-Journal reported players and their parents have accused the coach of using abusive tactics and intimidation to run her team.  Allegations against Young included telling two teammates to sign a contract saying they would no longer speak to each other, making an injured player do push-ups in an airport terminal as a punishment, and kicking a player off the team during a road trip then leaving her behind at the stadium.

“I tell my leaders, ‘It’s acting. I’m just trying to get a reaction out of you. If you’re going to be mad at me, great … if that means you’re gonna play harder’ ” said Young in disputing the allegations of cruelty and mistreatment. Several current Cardinals agree with their coach.

Two upperclassmen have said that while the atmosphere at practices and games can sometimes be intense they support both Young and her coaching methods. They also noted that in athletics, practices are often difficult and coaches say things to “get you riled up so that you work harder in the end.  It makes you stronger and more determined to prove yourself.”

The disaffected players said that she was cruel and punitive. Among their claims were accusations that Young preyed upon their insecurities and that she often made them sit in silence for hours after a loss. Young’s reply to their statement was that yes, she did have them stay silent at times after a loss but never for “hours” saying instead, that she asked them not to be so “happy go-lucky after a loss.”

After the charges were reported a group of former players sent the following:

“We are deeply troubled by the article released by The Courier Journal. Every athlete at the University of Louisville is held to an elite standard to prepare, practice, and compete at the highest level within their respective sport. Kellie Young encouraged an atmosphere that made each and every player strive for excellence. Each player under Kellie Young has achieved something they never thought possible, whether it was a sub 6:15 mile time or a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. Kellie incepted a culture of academic and athletic superiority, which has helped us develop into the successful young professionals we are today.

As alumnae of a Division I program, we understand that not every athlete has the drive, discipline, and courage to take on the expectations of a tough coach. We support Kellie Young and are grateful to have had a coach that cared about our character as much as our player potential.

Sincerely,

U of L Women’s Lacrosse Alumnae

(There were 18 signatures to the letter)

In the meantime, Coach Young and the lacrosse team are in fall practices and tournaments preparing for the coming season.

 

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

 

Coach Young-1

Kellie Young a member of The Hall of Fame

By: Michelle Lewis

Women’s lacrosse head coach, Kellie Young, was named as a member of her Alma Mater’s First Hall of Fame class Wed. evening.

Young, an alumnus of Mount Holyoke College, earned two time All-Regional and All-Conference Accolades as a player. Her senior year she was a co-captain and received the Ruth C. Timm Award for the program’s most outstanding player.

“I am truly honored and humbled by this award,” Young said. “Mount Holyoke is a part of my fabric. It shaped who I am as a woman, as a coach, and as a leader.”

Young played soccer, softball, and basketball as well as lacrosse. She earned nine varsity letters across the four sports before graduating with a degree in politics and women’s studies. She has been in coaching for 18 years having spent time at division two and three schools before moving into division one 15 years ago. Among the schools Young has spent time at is former Big East conference foe Georgetown where she was an assistant before being recruited by Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich to start a program here.

Young is the only head coach Louisville Women’s Lacrosse has ever known. She arrived on campus seven years ago charged with building a lacrosse program from scratch. The first year was spent hiring a staff, recruiting players to come to Louisville, and setting up a schedule for the young program. She has lead the Cards to an overall record of 57-42 and double digit wins in five of the six seasons since the university added the sport. She’s also helped develop the program’s two All Americans, Bergan Foley, and Nikki Boltja.

Young had high praise for the opportunity Jurich has given her and is grateful for the support she and her team receive from the university as a whole. Last season the lacrosse match against Notre Dame set a record for the program’s highest attendance to date. Among those in the stands were members of the men’s basketball team and the school’s football team as well as both men’s and women’s soccer. Young pointed this out as an example of the camaraderie and sense of family at UofL. She is hopeful that as the team hosts more big matches this support will continue to grow and that lacrosse can become another top 10 team on campus.

Young and her fellow inductees will be honored with a formal induction ceremony on Oct. 19.

Freshman Kaylin Morissette earned Rookie of the Week honors for scoring four goals in the season opener.

Women’s lacrosse defeats Ohio State for second consecutive win

By Nick Zelano–

Freshman Kaylin Morissette earned Rookie of the Week honors for scoring four goals in the season opener.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., the women’s lacrosse team won their second straight game to improve to 2-0 on the season. The team defeated Ohio State with a score of 12-11, marking a great start to the season for the team. Led by junior midfielders Colleen O’Malley and Nikki Boltja with four goals each, the team fought hard to edge out the upset.

“Nikki played great,” head coach Kellie Young said. “Two of her goals were perfectly placed, and she was unstoppable.”

After taking the 1-0 lead with Nikki Boltja’s goal, the Cardinals were working from behind the rest of the game. The largest lead in the game was Ohio State leading numerous teams by two goals at 4-2, 5-3 and 9-7. Besides their 1-0 lead, Louisville did not lead at any point in the game until they took the final lead 12-11 with another Boltja goal with seven minutes left.

“It wasn’t her opening goal or game-winning goal, though,” Young said of Bolita’s impact on the game. “It was her defending.”

This marked the team’s fourth win in school history over a ranked opponent.

“You expect the No. 13 team in the nation to score goals, but our defense stopped them when they needed to,” Young said. “Out of a rocky first half, we came out mentally tough ready to dominate the second half.”

Freshman midfielder Kaylin Morissette was held scoreless in her second career game for U of L. She posted a great stat line of five draw controls and also captured two ground balls. This showing took place after a debut earlier this week against Canisius. With four goals, including three in the first half, Morissette forced four turnovers. These stats were historical, and she also tied two others with the most goals in a Louisville debut.

The stat line also proved enough for national recognition, for Morissette earned Rookie of the Week according to Womenslax.com, an Illinois-based organization. A Canadian native, Morissette was a captain on the U-19 Canadian national team coming in.

The women’s lacrosse team will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. The game, held at home, will feature the Cardinals battling Old Dominion at the U of L Lacrosse Stadium.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal