Epic soccer rematch
Louisville vs. UCLA

No. 1 vs. No. 2 coming soon

A match pitting two of the best college soccer teams in America will quickly test the resolve of the “I hate soccer” contingent of the University of Louisville fan base when the season begins Aug. 27 at Cardinal Park.

U of L and UCLA, ranked first and second respectively by College Soccer News, will meet a rematch of a thriller in which the Cards defeated the Bruins 5-4 in the closing seconds of NCAA action last December. These are substantially the same teams that faced off in that game. U of L has nine starters returning while the Bruins returns its entire first 11.

College Soccer News is enthusiastic about Ken Lolla’s team:

 Ken Lolla knows how to build winners.  He has worked wonders at Louisville in a short period of time. Nine starters return from the 2010 squad that was 20-1-3 with their lone loss at the hands of Akron 1-0 in the National Championship game.  Junior All-American forward Colin Rolfe (9g, 7a) will power the attack up-top.  Senior Nick DeLeon (8g, 3a) and sophomore Dylan Mares (8g, 4a) are talented midfielders who add another element to the attack.  Senior All-American Austin Berry anchors the backline and senior Andre Boudreaux returns in goal. 

We’ll discuss the conference opponents in a later post, focusing on the out-of-conference schedule for now.

The University of Kentucky is conspicuously absent from the out-of-conference schedule. The Wildcats have been on an opposite trajectory in recent years ... Maybe skipping it was a good idea for the Wildcats.

The schedule is a challenging one, including road trips against two other NCAA opponents from last season — North Carolina, Sept. 4 and Ohio State, Sept. 21. The match against the Buckeyes could be brutal, based on the bad blood evidenced last year.

The non-conference matchup at home that comes closest to the intensity of the opener is the Sept. 17 game against Butler, a perennially solid team that reached the second round of the NCAA tourney.

The University of Kentucky is conspicuously absent from the out-of-conference schedule. The Wildcats have been on an opposite trajectory in recent years. This has always been an intense rivalry, producing foul-filled, ill-tempered and generally nasty games, largely thanks to Ian Collins, UK’s foul-mouthed, foul-tempered and generally nasty coach. Maybe skipping it was a good idea was a good idea for the Wildcats.

On the road, the Cards will face a number of tough non-conference opponents, including Indiana. It’s worth a midweek trip to Bloomington on October 5. Armstrong Stadium is one of the storied venues in NCAA soccer and the Hoosier crowds are among the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable in the game.

Andrew Melnykovych

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