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The University of Louisville women’s lacrosse team is taking the next step in its historic season, facing 10th-ranked Ohio State on Friday in Evanston, Ill., in the Cardinals’ first NCAA Tournament game in school history.
No. 16 Louisville (15-3) and Ohio State, which played earlier this season, are scheduled for an 8 p.m. start at Lakeside Field in a first-round matchup. The winner faces No. 5-seed and site host Northwestern on Sunday in the NCAA second round at 2 p.m.
In the meeting between the two teams earlier this season, Louisville pushed its way to a 6-2 advantage in the first half. The Buckeyes fought back with four-consecutive goals to tie the game at the half. The Cardinals reclaimed the lead, but Ohio State’s four-unanswered scores late in the game proved to be too much in a 12-11 victory.
Nikki Boltja had four goals and one assist in the loss, Faye Brust added three scores, and Kaylin Morissette and Colleen O’Malley each tacked on two goals. Morissette was held to a season-low four draw controls. Jennifer Porretto paced Ohio State with three goals and one assist, while Katie Chase and Kaila Gottlick totaled two goals apiece.
The Cardinals, who won the school’s first regular-season title this year after going 7-0 in league play, secured the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Georgetown 9-8 in the BIG EAST Tournament championship.
Brust, the BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Player and one of the school’s five all-tournament selections, scored all six of her goals in the first half. Morissette added two goals, and Boltja had one.
Following the second victory over Georgetown this season, Brust is now tied with Boltja for the team lead with 67 goals. Boltja, though, has a team-best 91 points, which ranks fourth nationally. Morissette’s 158 draw controls, which averages to 8.78 per game, is the second-best mark in the country.
Over the last five games, Louisville has received stellar play in the cage from freshman goalkeeper Ashley Peacock. In addition to sporting a 5-0 record, she has a 6.32 goals-against average with 26 saves for a .456 save percentage.
Ohio State (13-6), which earned one of the at-large spots into the NCAA Tournament, is making its third appearance on the national stage. The Buckeyes compiled six-consecutive wins before losing two of their last three, including a 9-8 loss to Northwestern in the ALC semifinals on May 2.
Against the Wildcats, the Buckeyes’ Chase scored a game-best five goals, and DeScenza totaled six saves in the loss. Chase scored the Buckeyes’ eighth goal with a little less than nine minutes in regulation, but Ohio State couldn’t generate anymore offense for the duration of the contest. Northwestern held a 13-6 advantage on the draw.
For the year, Jackie Cifarelli has a team-high 63 points, including 46 assists. The team’s primary scoring threat Chase has 47 goals on the year, with Mary Kate Facchina contributing 31 scores and Cian Dabrowski with 30.
Defensively, DeScenza boasts a 7.95 goals-against average with 143 saves. Facchina and Taylor Donahue each have a team-best 13 caused turnovers.
Louisville’s lone victory in the series with Ohio State, which leads 6-1, came in 2013, when the Cardinals posted a 12-11 decision at home on Feb. 16. Colleen O’Malley and Nikki Boltja each had four goals, while the Buckeyes’ Tori DeScenza allowed 10 goals and made two saves.
(From U of L Athletics)