By Jordan Shim–
The women’s team improved greatly from last season, but the ultimate goal may not be reached this year. However, success from this year will easly roll over into 2017 and this season serves as a benchmark for future success.
Louisville has a 7-4-3 record this season and are currently ranked No. 21 by Soccer America. They have a 2-1-1 record in the ACC. However, their two wins have come from Pittsburgh, who have only won one game this season, and Boston College, who sit below them in the conference standings. Against competition above them, they drew to No. 12 Duke and No. 24 NC State and lost to No. 14 Notre Dame.
Three schools remaining on their schedule are ranked, and with Boston College serving as the only win over a ranked opponent, the Cards will have difficulty finishing on the same note they started the season. A few areas of the game will need to show improvement before the Cards can progress.
No aerial threat
Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes likes her team to play a direct style of soccer. Niamh Nelson and Gabrielle Vincent like to send the long ball forward and attack through the center of the pitch to get the ball to Sarah Feola and Brooklynn Rivers. Yet, the team lacks the proper personnel to win the aerial duels.
The opposition has noticed the Cards’ inability to win headers and has crowded the center of the pitch, ultimately forcing the Cards to attack through the flanks and send crosses into the box. Feola’s playstyle centers around playing the ball on the ground. Her size does not favor her against center backs, and she tends to avoid aerial challenges. Therefore, when the long ball is sent forward, or when a cross is sent into the box, the opposition win the aerial dueld and ultimately win possession.
The Cards must improve in this area of the game to stretch the field wide and create space in the center for pacey players such as Feola, Kaela Dickerman and Arianna Ferraro to make runs into the box.
No proven goal scorer
This may not be seen to be a problem, but as the season goes and the quality of competition ramps up, lacking a proven goalscorer can cost Louisville crucial points in the ACC. Feola and Kathellen Sousa-Feitoza are the two recognized strikers on the roster.
Through 13 games, only two goals have been scored from that position. Feola has scored two goals, but her last goal came on Sept. 2 against Kentucky and she’s remained scoreless in her past six games. Sousa-Feitoza has seen limited time on the field, therefore has not registered a goal for the Cards. River is the Cards’ leading goal scorer with four. However, she is scoreless in her last five and has only appeared on the scoresheet in two of the 13 games played.
While defense is extremely important, the Cardinals seem to lack scoring power once faced with a deficit. If U of L can’t locate a consistent goal-scorer then more pressure is applied to the Louisville defense and goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin.
Photo by Jordan Shim / The Louisville Cardinal