Louisville soccer needs to derail Akron’s 12-game winning streak

Ken Lolla needs to get past Akron, his former team that denied Louisville the national championship in 2010.

Ken Lolla’s soccer team is back. So close. So far.

Final home game, last chance to see a University of Louisville team within three wins of a national championship. 

Big challenge, however, with a foe that has won its past 12 games and evoking significant emotional ties for Lolla. In the quarterfinal round, competing for  a berth in the 2017 College Cup semifinals.

That foe just happens to Akron University, where Lolla coached for 13 seasons before being recruiting by Tom Jurich to taking over the UofL program in 2005. The same man who made Akron a power has made Louisville a national contender for the past 12 years.

Any match against Akron is an experience for Lolla but none more gut-wrenching than the game between UofL and Akron in the College Cup in 2010. Akron won that game 1-0 in the national championship final at Santa Barbara, Calif. 

If he gets emotional about playing Akron again, Lolla doesn’t let it show. “I think the biggest thing is to relish the moment,” he said. “To play in the NCAA Tournament is special as it is. To play for the opportunity to go to the College Cup, the biggest event, is even more special.”

The Cardinals (13-2-4) are led by junior Tate Schmitt who had the game-winning goals in NCAA tournament wins over San Francisco and Colgate. He’s also the team’s leading scorer with nine goals on the season. The Zips (18-3) are led by Stuart Holthusen, a senior from Auckland, New Zealand, with 12 goals.

Lolla himself needs to “relish the moment” while putting Akron behind him this time around.

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A visit to an Akron soccer message board revealed that a sizeable number of fans from the Ohio school will be making the five-and-a-half trip to the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium for the game. Seated among them in Section 211 will be Scott Caldwell who scored the winning goal in the 2010 championship game:

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Akron Coach Aaron Embick who felt strongly that fifth-seeded Akron deserved the No. 4 seed over Louisville, telling an Akron newspaper, “I think as a team we felt like we probably did more in the regular season,” he said. “We were a little bit hotter at the end of the regular season than Louisville to deserve the fourth seed. 

Nice bulletin board material.

Louisville Soccer goes down, but, hey, 2016 is almost over

On the verge of something special, but down they go. Again.

One game short of the College Cup for UofL but it's still the year 2016 (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Falling short of post season glory for UofL, a familiar refrain in 2016 (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

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. 

Continue reading “Louisville Soccer goes down, but, hey, 2016 is almost over”

Soccer team comes through for UofL, on to the Elite 8

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.

Mohamed Thiaw put UofL ahead in the first half with his 12th goal of the season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Mohamed Thiaw put UofL ahead in the first half with his 12th goal of the season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

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 Louligans bring a raucous atmosphere to the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
The Louligans bring a raucous atmosphere to the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

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.

In search of the University of Louisville’s No. 1 fan

Card MazeWho 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?

Continue reading “In search of the University of Louisville’s No. 1 fan”

Louisville Soccer advances to Sweet 16

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.