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No. 7 Virginia field hockey falls to No. 5 Louisville

Cardinal defense limited the Cavaliers to just five shots all game.

<p>Louisville defense shut out Virginia's usually powerful offensive corps.&nbsp;</p>

Louisville defense shut out Virginia's usually powerful offensive corps. 

No. 7 Virginia traveled to Louisville, Ky., Friday afternoon for the second competition of their three game road trip. The Cavaliers (7-4, 1-2 ACC) were set to take on the No. 5 Cardinals (9-1, 1-1 ACC), who were undefeated at home at Trager Stadium. Ultimately, the Cavaliers were unable to spoil that Cardinal home winning streak, as a 2-0 Louisville victory earned them a 5-0 home record.

The first quarter began with a blocked Louisville shot, but the Cavaliers were able to respond less than two minutes later with a shot of their own. Graduate student midfield Adele Iacobucci logged the first shot of the game for Virginia, one that went wide. A second wide shot, this time taken by graduate student striker Laura Janssen, concluded the action in the first quarter.

3:15 into the second quarter, Virginia had an opportunity to facilitate some offensive production with a Louisville green card. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers were unable to get a good look in their two minutes of playing with a one-man advantage. The ball got stuck in the neutral zone until about 12 minutes into the quarter when the Cardinals drew a penalty corner. Fifth-year midfield/forward Minna Tremonti was able to convert that penalty corner into a goal, putting Louisville up 1-0 going into the half. 

A major test for the Cavaliers came just over five minutes into the second half, when Janssen got hit with a yellow card, which suspends a player for anywhere between five to 10 minutes, depending on the umpire’s ruling. Despite being a man down, the Virginia defense did not allow the Cardinals to get another shot in during the nearly seven minutes Janssen was out. The only shot on goal of the third quarter came from Cavalier freshman striker Emma Watchilla with just 20 seconds left before the break.

Desperate to get something going, Virginia came out hot in the fourth quarter. Sophomore midfield Daniela Mendez-Trendler had a shot saved two minutes in, but that was closely followed by a second yellow card on Janssen that once again put the Cavaliers one man short. 

Junior goalkeeper Tyler Kennedy put on a heroic display during the 11-on-10, saving three shots in a period of 10 seconds following a Cardinal penalty corner. This comes just two weeks after Kennedy was named the NFHCA Division I National Defensive Player of the Week, making her the first Cavalier to be given this defensive honor since the 2020 season.

However, the Cavaliers didn’t get so lucky on the fourth Cardinal penalty corner of the night, as sophomore midfield Izzy Bianco found the back of the net to put Louisville up 2-0 with under seven minutes remaining. 

Virginia fought to maintain possession for the remainder of the game, looking for any scoring opportunities, but fell short with just one shot from sophomore midfield Lauren Kenah. Mendez-Trendler took a penalty corner, but the Cavaliers were unable to get a shot off. 

This marked the first time the Cavaliers had been shut out since Oct. 25, 2022, against Maryland. This was also the first Virginia road loss of the season, an unfortunate way to remember the 50th anniversary of the first game in the history of the Virginia field hockey program.

The Cavaliers are set to close out the current road trip with a Sunday afternoon matchup at Miami University before returning home to take on No. 4 Duke in a Friday night marquee matchup.

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