By Chelsea Allen–
“America’s best college sports town” isn’t just a saying around Louisville anymore, but a true title, as little could be more defining of the University of Louisville’s past season in sports.
Here is a look back at an exciting season of Louisville Sports: A Winning Year in Review.
Last season’s young UofL football team, picked to finish last in the Big East preseason, locked a three-way tie for the Big East title. This was the third season under Head Coach Charlie Strong. Strong has now led Louisville to two bowl games, where the North Carolina State Wolfpack defeated the Cards in December 2011. The Cards are picked to finish first in the Big East this upcoming season, with second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ranked number one among the Big East by Athlon Sports.
The UofL men’s basketball team finished with a 10-8 record in the Big East. In the post-season, however, the No. 4 seeded Cards rallied an eight-game winning streak as Big East Champions to New Orleans for the Final Four. The Cards lost 69-61 to No. 1 overall seed and 2012 National Champions Kentucky. The Cards are now ranked as high as No. 1 in 2013 preseason polls, gaining respect to go even further next season.
The women’s team made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where sophomore star Shoni Shimmel scored 22 in a close loss to No. 5 Maryland. The team finished the season 23-10 overall, losing just one senior, Becky Burke.
Softball: Nationally ranked No. 9 Louisville Softball is currently 44-2 for the season. Pitcher Tori Collins was Named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week on April 17th, throwing two-straight no hitters against Longwood. The Cards have two conference series and a game at Tennessee before the Big East Championship in South Bend.
Swimming and Diving:
Another national title was added to U of L’s accolades with Carlos Almeida’s national championship as winner of the 200-breast in the NCAA Championships this year. Overall, the team finished ninth in the championships, which is the highest school history.
The previously No. 1 ranked Louisville Men’s Soccer team fell in double overtime to UCLA in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament as a 12-seed in December. This was Head Coach Ken Lolla’s fifth season, as he saw off four seniors to the 2012 MLS Super Draft: Nick DeLeon to DC United, Austin Berry to the Chicago Fire, Colin Rolfe to the Houston Dynamo and Kenney Walker to the LA Galaxy. The draft was the first time in U of L history that four players were selected, and Louisville was the only school with three players drafted in the first round or with four draft picks.
It was quite a season for U of L Women’s Soccer as well, with a school record 14 wins and the best NCAA Championship run in school history. The ladies fell in the Big East Championship game and then to No. 9 FSU in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
No. 2 seeded Louisville Men’s Tennis finished off their third straight Big East Tournament Championship with a win over host South Florida on April 22. The Cards were ranked No. 38 when they fell to No. 39 Notre Dame in the final regular season game.
Women’s Tennis: The No. 6 seeded University of Louisville women’s tennis took an unexpected run in the Big East Tournament, falling to No. 2 seed host South Florida before the Championship match.
No. 20 Louisville baseball recently swept No. 1 Kentucky, beating the Cats 12-0 in Lexington, and 10-2 at home. Currently leading the Big East, the Cards hope to take the Big East title and make another run down the road to Omaha. This is head coach Dan McDonell’s sixth season with the Cards after he led Louisville to the 2007 College World Series in his rookie season as coach.
Louisville Volleyball advanced to the NCAA tournament, but fell to Purdue in the second round. The Cardinals ended their season at 24-9.
Dance: The Louisville Ladybirds Black Squad also won their fourth consecutive and 11th national championship in the NDA competition, with the Red Squad claiming third.
Men’s Cross Country:
Louisville Cross Country finished the season ranked as No. 26, placing third at the Big East Championships and seventh in NCAA southeast regional.
Track and Field:
At a recent meet held in Cardinal Park, Louisville track and field teams claimed 19 event titles while breaking two school records.
Louisville Men’s Golf won their first tournament since 2008 at the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational this season.
The women’s golf team finished third at the Big East Championship.
The Cards Big East tournament run was cut short by No. 4 Connecticut in the semifinals.
Photo: Eric Voet/The Louisville Cardinal