Despite uncertainty about whether the game would be played due to weather, women’s soccer picked up their first ACC victory in a 2-1 win against Louisville on the road Friday afternoon. Goals by Laura Gouvin and Jenna Bike made the difference, while Wiebke Willebrandt’s four saves helped the Eagles hang on to the win late in the second half.
In the 16th minute, Gouvin stepped up to the corner flag to take the Eagles' corner kick. She sent the ball spiraling towards the back post, where Eagles forwards and Louisville defenders watched as the ball struck the far post and went into the back of the net, giving the Eagles the lead and Gouvin an Olimpico goal.
Early in the second half, captain Jenna Bike tallied the Eagles' second goal with a rocket to the right-side top netting. Having earned a set piece, Gouvin sent the ball into the box. Abby McNamara popped the ball up, Louisville’s clear fell right to a charging Bike, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net to make the score 2-0 Eagles.
The game was not without late second-half drama. Louisville would steal a goal back in the 86th minute. Julia Simon beat a Michela Agresti tackle and slotted the ball into the lower left, just past the outstretched hand of Eagles keeper Willebrandt.
Offsides continued to be a problem for the Eagles’ offense. Collectively, the team picked up eight offsides calls compared to Louisville’s three. After subbing in Richards in the 62nd minute, the Eagles’ tactics switched to lofting long balls over the Louisville defense for Richards to run onto. The play was effective, but Richards and others struggled to stay onside, stopping momentum and regularly turning the ball over to Louisville.
Both teams made use of a wide field, finding space for the passing game and creating plenty of chances. Bike had control of the right side of the field, able to generate crosses at will and speed up or slow down play as the game progressed. Louisville too found space, finding unmarked players for crosses or to switch the point of attack.
Willebrandt and a little bit of luck kept the Louisville offense quiet till the 86th minute. Eventual Louisville goal-scorer Julia Simon almost scored in the 80th minute, beating her defender to rifle a shot at the bottom right corner. Willebrandt’s quick reaction punched the ball, saving a goal.
Four minutes later, Willebrandt was forced to come off her line to make a diving save against a Louisville attacker who was in alone. Her instinct to come out of the six-yard box to make the diving grab saved a goal and prevented a dangerous Louisville chance.
Louisville had several chances in the box across both halves but was unable to capitalize. Five minutes into the game Louisville had a pair of dangerous corners, with Sarah Hernandez nearly getting a head on a ball with a wide-open look at the back post. In the 8th minute, Nina Nicosia received a cross from Hernandez, but was unable to get a shot off, despite being inside the six-yard box.
The Eagles (7-7-1) continue their road stretch by taking on Pitt at 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 21.
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