By Matt Bradshaw —
Our rundown of varsity sports continues with part two of the athletics state of the union. We ranked five programs in part one:
21. Women’s tennis
19. Men’s golf
18. Men’s cross country
To reiterate: This list examines the current outlook of Cardinal athletics and ranks every sport by its relative success. The criteria for success include performance during 2017-18, current play and future potential.
We move forward with four teams each week until the conclusion. Let’s crack on.
Conference finish: Fifth at ACC Championship
Season finish: Ranked No. 20 in US coaches’ poll
Rowing posted five wins and numerous top-five finishes over the course of eight competitions last season. The team performs against elite schools across the country and at some of the world’s largest rowing regattas like Head of the Hooch.
U of L finished fifth at the 2018 ACC Championship with 66 points, powered by a bronze-medal performance from the varsity eight crew.
Head coach Derek Copeland returns four members of the bronze-medal crew, including Second-Team All ACC selection and Freshman of the Year Violette Legrand.
The Cards closed the season ranked No. 20 in the final US Rowing/CRCA coaches’ poll.
Overall 2017 record: 8-5
Conference play: 4-4
Season finish: Loss in TaxSlayer Bowl
Football’s final season with Heisman winner Lamar Jackson ended with a disappointing loss to Mississippi State.
Despite high hopes for 2018, head coach Bobby Petrino has led the Cards to a dismal 2-3 start (0-2 in ACC play). Struggling quarterbacks, underwhelming receivers and subpar defense are but a few of the team’s problems.
Louisville has reached a bowl game for eight straight years. College football experts have predicted the streak will end this season.
With seven games to play, U of L needs four more wins to be considered for the playoffs. This is no easy task with top-25 teams remaining in Clemson, NC State and Kentucky.
14. Women’s soccer
Overall 2017 record: 9-7-2
Conference play: 3-5-2
Season finish: Loss in regular season
Women’s soccer failed to reach the ACC tournament last season after a ninth-place conference finish. The top eight teams advance to the tournament after the regular season.
Preseason-ranked No. 9 in the ACC, Louisville is currently 9-2 overall and 3-1 in ACC play for their best start in conference history.
Freshman Maisie Whitsett and junior Brooklyn Rivers currently lead in scoring with eight and seven goals, respectively. Sophomore Emina Ekic powers the midfield, returning from last year with All-ACC and Freshman of the Year honors.
If U of L remains consistent on the pitch, they’ll easily boost themselves into the top-10 of varsity sports.
13. Men’s tennis
Overall 2018 record: 15-11
Conference play: 5-7
Season finish: Losses in NCAA first round
Men’s tennis posted a solid 2018 regular season and competed in the NCAA Championships. Senior Christopher Morin-Kougoucheff became the third player in program history to play in both the singles and doubles championships.
Head coach Rex Ecarma enters his 28th season at the helm this fall. Four freshmen join six returners who spent nine weeks in last year’s national rankings.
Morin-Kougoucheff begins his final collegiate run ranked No. 36 (singles) and No. 53 (doubles) in the ITA preseason rankings. Senior and Louisville native Brandon Lancaster joins his teammate in the doubles rankings.
During fall play, the Cardinals picked up 11 victories at the Greater Cincinnati Collegiate Invitational. David Mizrahi finished 3-0 in singles play and joined fellow freshman Juan Paredes for two doubles wins.
At the Vanderbilt Commodore Scramble, Lancaster and senior George Hedley captured the doubles title of the tournament.
You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.
Photo by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal