Louisvillians love a good rivalry.
Everyone knows about the hatred between the Cardinals and a certain school an hour or so east of town.
The playing of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ has unofficially been banned by most Louisville establishments due to the Cards’ hatred for the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Louisvillians love their sports, but they also love to hate their rivals.
For the past three seasons, a rivalry just short of hooligan proportions has been building between the Louisville Lightning and Detroit Waza.
This season has seen two games boil over with player scuffles, controversial calls, and a broken arm to Lightning goalkeeper Frank Peabody. It should be noted that both games went to the Detroit Waza, with the latter decision coming in mid-January in Detroit.
Since that loss, the Lightning has rattled off five straight victories.
They’ll head into their season finale Friday night boasting an 11-4 league record as they gear up for what hopes to be a deep playoff run. In year three of the franchise, the team looks stronger and more composed than ever as they enter the postseason.
Only one obstacle stands in the way of the Lightning hoisting the division trophy and a six-game winning streak, and that obstacle rolls into Louisville Friday night.
The Detroit Waza currently has a half-game lead over the Lightning in the standings, thanks to a shocking upset by the Kansas Magic on Feb. 12.
That sets up Friday’s meeting between the Lightning and Waza to be arguably the biggest game in franchise history.
With the playoffs looming, Lightning Coach Ted Nichols says the team is solely focused on beating the Detroit Waza.
“We want to win the division. It’s not about the playoffs; it’s about winning the division,” he said. “We got some help from other teams, and now we have to train and get ready for Detroit. We have so much to play for, and we’d like to be playing for first place in that final regular season game.”
Detroit is a veteran team, with many guys who have been playing together for more than a decade.
For Louisville, Friday’s game represents a chance to disrupt the Waza’s cohesion and get revenge after the two earlier losses.
This weekend’s contest is more than just a league match, however.
“We have a great rivalry with the Waza, but we’ve been on the negative end of some decisions up there. Some of our worst moments as a team came against Detroit, so there is nothing we want more than a victory Friday,” Nichols said.
For the Lightning, it’s a chance to claim a division title heading into the playoffs.
For Louisville sports fans, it’s a chance to find another rival to hate.