The University of Louisville men’s soccer team that heads to Maryland for Saturday night’s NCAA quarterfinal is a very different outfit both from the one that beat the Terps 4-2 in last year’s NCAA round of 16 and the one that lost 3-0 to the Terps in College Park to open the season.
The Cards started the 2012 campaign trying to find the right mix of players to replace five senior starters, four of whom were drafted into Major League Soccer. Two of them – defender Austin Berry and Nick DeLeon – would go on to finish 1-2 in the voting for MLS rookie of the year. That’s a serious loss of talent.
While the Cards had a solid core of returning players – notably defenders Brock Granger, Greg Cochrane and Andrew Ferrell and midfielder Paaolo DelPiccolo – Coach Ken Lolla faced the task of integrating several transfers into the lineup and determining which of the incoming freshmen could contribute immediately and who should redshirt. Also a question mark was midfielder Dylan Mares and the extent of his recovery from a serious injury that caused him to miss all of the 2011 campaign.