Grit and Fight
History is being made left and right at Racing Louisville.
On the heels of a historic first win over the Portland Thorns last Saturday, Racing came on Wednesday to beat OL Reign for the first time and earn a place in the 2023 UKY Challenge Cup final. Not only was Wednesday’s 1-0 win over the Seattle side Louisville’s first-ever playoff victory, but it was also their first-ever playoff appearance (outside of the Women’s Cup which is only a friendly tournament and not sanctioned by any league.) Put another way, Racing had their biggest game in team history on Saturday against Portland and followed it up a few days later with their new biggest game in team history against Seattle. Talk about a great week for the young Louisville team — and a pretty abysmal one for the two powerhouses of the Pacific Northwest.
Louisville’s Elli Pikkujämsä summed up the win against OL Reign aptly when she said, “It was not the prettiest game, but it doesn’t matter.”
She’s right that the performance on the pitch could have been cleaner, but that hardly matters when the team got the three points it needed to advance. Ultimately, their single goal from Kirsten Davis was scored off a severe error by OL Reign defender Sam Hiatt who essentially passed the ball to Davis off of a free kick while Davis was standing at the top of Seattle’s box. Davis deftly knocked the ball out of the air, turned, and fired before the keeper or closest defender could react. Much of the rest of the match was spent defending furiously, but they were successful and kept their opponents off the board despite OL Reign subbing in major players like Megan Rapinoe, Jordyn Huitema, and Jess Fishlock.
“We stuck together and put our bodies on the line to block shots and keep things out of the way,” said keeper Katie Lund of Racing’s defensive performance. “I couldn’t be happier for us or the way that we played. We’ve been through a lot and this just shows that we have the grit and the fight and that we can win in this league.”
Thanks to this win, Racing now heads to North Carolina on extremely short rest to take on the Courage this Saturday at 12:30 PM. Just making the final will give every play on the team a substantial monetary bonus, but winning it would see each player pocketing $13,400. Considering the minimum National Women’s Soccer League salary hovers around $40,000, this is a comparatively substantial sum.
When asked how the team would take on…