By Matt Bradshaw —

After failing to win a match in their conference last year, lacrosse has started the current season in similar fashion. Louisville is 4-6 overall and 0-3 in ACC play with six contests remaining in the 2019 regular season.

The Cards’ conference performance doesn’t necessarily speak to a lack of talent on the team, so much as the level of competition they face. The ACC is the toughest lacrosse conference in the country, and every match becomes a struggle to come out on top.

What’s important to note is that Louisville, under head coach Scott Teeter, shows promise despite the ACC losses. The Cardinals are 3-3 in their last six matches, with victories against solid opponents and a close call against a top-ranked opponent.

Conference play began with a 16-4 loss at No. 19 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish overpowered the Cards with double the amount of shots, and the Cards didn’t help themselves with 18 turnovers.

Louisville turned things around with a 15-5 win at Butler, marking the program’s first win on the road this season. The defense played rock solid and held Butler to just 14 shots.

Next came another ranked opponent: No. 15 Duke. The Cardinals played the Blue Devils to the wire, losing 11-10 in three overtimes.

With a season-high 25 turnovers, Duke found a solid match in Louisville. This proves that, when consistent, Louisville has the ability to hang with elite teams. The Cards nearly defeated the Blue Devils with a shot that went just wide with 20 seconds in regulation.

Louisville followed its near-win with back-to-back victories against Duquesne and Cincinnati. Senior Tessa Chad, who leads the team with 33 goals this season, set a school record against the Duquesne Dukes with nine goals in the 23-13 dub.

“Tessa was on and her teammates did a great job of drawing opponents off of her and finding her in good spots to score,” Teeter said. “When she’s open, there aren’t too many goalies out there that can stop her.”

Four Cardinals scored hat tricks in the 18-12 win against Cincinnati, including sophomore Kayla Marshall with a career-high four goals.

Louisville’s last game, a 14-7 loss to No. 4 Syracuse, further demonstrated the difficulty of managing such a tough schedule.

“It’s got to be the fatigue factor,” Teeter said. “It’s a tough stretch of our schedule. We have to come ready to play and come with a clear head and be focused all the time, not just in spurts.”

Next up, Louisville lacrosse travels to face Virginia Tech on Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m. If the Cardinals can find it in themselves to play with consistency and together as a team, they have a good chance to finish close to a .500 season.

“We’re starting to hit our stride,” Teeter said. “Things are going well when we’re minimizing our mistakes. We’re gelling as a team. We got our work ethic down. We grew confidence off the Duke game, even though it wasn’t the outcome we wanted. We knew that we could play at a high level.”

You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.

Photos by Jessica Abell / The Louisville Cardinal