The one-day down cycle for University of Louisville sports has been reversed..

Of all the wild finishes for UofL over the weekend, the wildest of all may have been the last one, as the men’s soccer Cards faced off Sunday against Northwestern at Cardinal Park in the NCAA round of 16.

With less than four minutes left in a game that had been knotted at one goal each for the last 80-plus minutes, UofL’s persistent offensive pressure seemed ready to pay off when sophomore Dylan Mares burst into the right side of the penalty area with only the goalie between him and the net. But he pulled his shot wide of the far post, bringing a groan from the crowd.

A groan that turned into jubilation as a Northwestern defender came sliding to defend the far side of the goal, only to have the errant shot bounce off him and directly into the net. Score it an own goal and a 2-1 Louisville victory.

Louisville got off to a quick start, with early pressure paying off with a goal by freshman Marlon Hairston only four minutes in. But a defensive error about a minute later led to a corner kick and a Northwestern answer off a rebound following a splendid save by Cards goalie Mike Mauro.

That pattern held throughout the match – long stretches of UofL possession, sometimes leading to a good scoring opportunity, other times not. Northwestern had relatively few offensive opportunities, but forced Mauro into several tough saves to keep the Cards even. However, the last 10 minutes were all Louisville, and their victory – while not coming via the conventional route – was well deserved.

Now all that’s left between the Cards and a second College Cup in three years is Maryland. UofL started its season in College Park with a 3-0 defeat to the Terps. Now they need to find a way to make sure that their season doesn’t come to an end where it began.

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