On the verge of something special, but down they go. Again.
Still the year 2016, folks, a memorable one for University of Louisville athletics, and not in a good way. Lots of potential, plenty of wins, but consistently falling short of any special post-season milestones.
The latest to fall is the UofL soccer team. Just one game short of making it to the sport’s Final Four, teasing fans with the possibility of a national championship. Losing by a score of 2-0 to Stanford, the defending national champion, before a crowd of 3,247 Saturday at the Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium.
Having sat through three consecutive University of Louisville losses over the extended holiday weekend, one was more than little apprehensive about showing up for the UofL-Notre Dame soccer NCAA tournament game on Sunday.
Losses to Baylor in men’s basketball on Friday, Kentucky in football on Saturday, and South Carolina in women’s basketball on Sunday. A dark weekend for UofL athletics.
Why risk more disappointment? Probably because the soccer team has L-o-u-i-s- v-i-l-l-e on the front of the jersey and this UofL fan believes his team is always going to win the next game.
The Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium turned out to be the perfect place to shake the doldrums, with more than 1,858 fans in attendance. Their enthusiasm embodied in the raucous group of students behind the east goal who never stopped singing.
The UofL soccer team would not disappoint any of them. The decisive goal coming at the 19:53 mark in the second half — an in-your-face boomer by sophomore Tate Schmitt of a corner kick by his classmate Danny Reynolds.
Freshman Cherif Dieye would break free for another goal with six seconds remaining to seal a 3-1 victory over Notre Dame. The win sends Louisville to the NCAA’s Elite Eight for the first time in four years and the fourth time in the seven years.
Louisville soccer ending the weekend on a high note, evoking memories of a deep tournament run in 2010, creating the vision of some special magic over the next couple of weeks. The Cardinals will next clash with Stanford here on Saturday .
UofL fans needed some positive news and the soccer team was happy to oblige.
Who is the No. 1 fan of the University of Louisville? Far be it for me to presume who should be given that distinction. There would be so many extraordinary candidates, each of them fiercely loyal to UofL athletics.
It could even be a group of fans, possibly the Red Rage Tailgate team, headed by James Durst, Josh Stinson and Dave Magee, with their converted bus serving free Bloody Marys, doughnuts, hamburgers, ribs and hot dogs to UofL fans at home and away football games.
How about Ron Thomas who drives the antique fire truck loaded with fans circling the Green Lot with sirens blaring before each home football game.
Or Ken Richardson, of the End Zone Express, who has converted a former EMS vehicle into the ultimate tailgating machine with a state-of-the-art sound system?
The University of Louisville soccer team continues to dream big, despite driving rain on Sunday and lots of ups and downs during the season.
Freshman Tim Kubel scored in the 87th minute and Ken Lolla’s team is advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA Soccer Tournament with a 2-1 win over St. Louis University Sunday.
UofL is one of five Atlantic Coast Conference teams to make the round, along with Notre Dame, North Carolina, Virginia and Syracuse. Still another ACC team could be there if Clemson wins against Coastal Carolina in a game that was postponed until Monday because of inclement weather.
Louisville will square off against Maryland-Baltimore, which defeated Maryland 1-0 at College Park, Md. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. at at Lynn Stadium next Sunday.
UofL fans owe themselves the experience of enjoying the $19 million Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium before the 2014 college soccer season comes to an end. The Louisville soccer team has two home games remaining during the regular season, including the final ACC home game against Clemson Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals and Tigers are tied with 4-2 conference marks with Syracuse on top of the ACC’s Atlantic Division. UofL is currently 11th nationally. Tickets are $12 for chairback seats and $9 for general admission.