Louisville Athletics is pulling out all the stops for its top-notch soccer program. The university is giving last year’s national runners-up the biggest stage they can. After a professional introduction video, live national anthem, and fireworks, Louisville has certainly committed a lot of money and effort to what has normally been a second tier sport. The best part of it all is that the Cards delivered.
In a much hyped rematch of last year’s 5-4 quarterfinal snow game, Louisville dominated UCLA Saturday Night. The Cardinals proved to a record crowd of 7,821 that they deserve the preseason #1 ranking. Louisville was victorious thanks to an embarrassing UCLA own goal and a brilliant showcase of skill from Cards ace Colin Rolfe
UCLA was outwitted at first more outwitted by their own defense than the Cards offense. Goalkeeper Brian Rowe misjudged a routine header from defender Ryan Hollingshead that floated over his head and into the back of the net. Rowe played inconsistency all game, affected by the rare viciousness and pressure from the opposing fans.
Louisville’s strong suit was its veteran defense. The Bruins threatened late in the first half, but senior goalie Andre Boudreaux parried all shots sent his way. After the trials in the first half, the second period was dominated by Louisville and the Bruins were never able to pull themselves back into the match.
Coach Ken Lolla’s offense wasn’t as effective as it was last season, Louisville is missing the stellar outside play that Charlie Campbell gave them last year. Senior Nick DeLeon and Junior Ryan Smith showed flashes of that same pace that made Louisville so dangerous in 2010 but couldn’t convert any of their deep runs into goals.
Louisville now takes a two game road trip where they will play Wake Forrest and #3 North Carolina. Louisville defeated UNC last year in the national semifinal with a last second goal, and will face plenty of animosity in a huge test on Chapel Hill Sep 4.
It was fantastic to see the beautiful game get so much recognition from the University. With a revamp of Cardinal Park on the horizon, it is evident that Louisville Athletics is committing to its men’s soccer program.