By Sam Draut–
As the lights shine down upon U of L Lacrosse Stadium in its first ever night game, the fifth-ranked Cardinals find themselves behind Brown 2-0 nine minutes in. The team needs a spark to move away from the sluggish start, and the combination of strength and speed does the trick.
Kaylin Morissette slices through defenders into the goal area fan and rips a shot into the back of the net. The midfielder from Canada emphatically tosses her stick to ground as the deficit is cut in half. The hard-charging power and unfiltered emotion gets the team going and the Cardinals cruise to a 14-6 win in their final non-conference game of the regular season.
While Morissette credits her teammates for giving her lanes to the goal and spacing, her imposing strength and athleticism doesn’t hurt either. The 5-foot-8 senior finishes the night with two goals and two assists, upping her season totals to 31 and 15, respectively, each second highest on the team.
As Morissette talks about her first goal after the game, it’s hard for her to not bring up the importance of the draw control, after all, she is the best at it in the country. Morissette had six draw controls against Brown, increasing her total to a nation-high 127 this season. She also leads the country with 9.77 draw controls per game.
With 545 career draw controls, which is second all-time in NCAA history, Morissette’s prolific skill has churned up national notoriety, but it all started at U of L when she saw an opportunity.
In high school, she was told she “wasn’t fit enough” and her eyes “weren’t good enough” to play the draw spot. But when she arrived to Louisville from Ontario in 2012, it was the exact spot Cardinal coach Kellie Young had open.
“I came in to U of L and the draw spot was open and I said ‘all right, if I want to play, I guess that’s what I’m going to have to do’ I worked on it and worked on it,” Morissette said.
When learning how to play the position, Morissette went up against a variety of people, some who she said “cheated on the draw,” but once they did it normal, it became easier for her.
“I did different scenarios, I got my eyes better and where I should put the ball, some people say they have no idea where it is going,” Morissette said. “I sometimes like to think that I know.”
Though Morissette receives the statistical credit for the draw control, her teammates contribute to her success.
“It comes down to teammates, it’s a team thing,” Morissette said. “Sometimes it might just be me when I get the draw, but it’s my teammates boxing out, allowing me to have that space or its them telling me where I should put the ball.”
Sometimes games are easier than practices. Morissette said the draw control can be one of the toughest things in practice and she occasionally gets “mauled.” But, because of the practice, Morissette and her teammates are “incredible at it.”
“A lot of teams are going to play hard on the draw, we’re such a dynamic team on that, that’s our strong point,” Morissette said.
An IWCLA All-American in 2014 and 2015, Morissette isn’t only a draw control specialist. She is fourth in program history with 161 goals scored and has 47 career assists. During her four years at Louisville, Morissette believes her vision as an attacker has improved the most, saying she used to play with “tunnel vision.” As a freshman, she had only two assists, but finished with 12 and 18, as a sophomore and junior, respectively.
“Being able to see two girls are on me and know someone is open, that is something that I have worked on in the last four years,” Morissette said. “Coach Young has pounded my head a little bit, I think that is something that we can have a lot of looks off of, everyone is a strong shooter on our offensive end, it’s easy to dish out the ball.”
Part of the Cardinals and Morissette’s improvement is based around the experience of playing together. Three of Louisville’s top four goal scorers are seniors, and Hannah Koloski, the team’s leading goal scorer, is a junior.
Collectively, the upperclassmen have a good sense of where each other will be and how they each like to receive the ball. Whereas the team’s third leading goal scorer Cortnee Daley likes the ball off a cut, Koloski is a one-on-one player that likes space.
“You know where they are, you know where they like the ball. You know where they don’t want the ball, you know their strong suit,” Morissette said. “It allows us to play really good team defense or team offense.”
Along with four other seniors, Morissette has matured under the tutelage of Young. The ninth-year coach at Louisville has fueled Morissette with confidence and constructive criticism, developing one of the most highly decorated student-athletes in program history.
“She has me turned into the lacrosse player that I am today,” Morisette said. “She has allowed me to have free reign on some things and tough on me in others, and she has let me do what I do best. She is just awesome.”
Following a road trip to play third-ranked North Carolina next Saturday, Louisville (12-1 overall, 3-1 in the ACC) hosts 18th-ranked Virginia on April 16 for its final home game of the regular season.
With an illustrious collegiate career nearing its twilight, Morissette said the upcoming senior day is “scary, exciting and bittersweet” and joked that it “felt like 10 years” to final reach the end.
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal