A reported crowd of 7,047 showed up to witness a dream start for both University of Louisville men’s and women’s soccer programs at the new $18.5 million Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium on Friday evening.
Fans were treated to a high level of soccer, fireworks and music aplenty on an entertaining and balmy evening, one which saw temperatures in the 80s.
The natural turf field, adjacent to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, is surrounded by chairback seating for 2,300 in the main grandstand, bleacher seating for 900 in the east-end zone, and two berms which can accommodate 2,100. (Yes, after getting out the rusty calculator, I wondered how there were over 7,000 too!)
Add to this wonderful attraction the additional pulling power of a 15,500-square-foot training center – not to mention separate team locker rooms and lounge areas for the men and women – and it’s almost odds-on that both programs will get even stronger in the coming years.
The women’s team was up first and battled to a 1-0 victory over Ole Miss. That lone goal – the first at the new stadium – was scored by freshman Chatham DeProspo about eight yards out to the left of goal after 56.06. Sending in the cross was sophomore Kari Weinland.
Following the introduction to the crowd of benefactors Dr Mark and Cindy Lynn, a rendition of the national anthem by the college marching band and the unfurling of one very large American flag in the middle of the pitch, the men’s team – ranked No. 14 in the NCSAA soccer coaches’ preseason poll – took to the field in a new-look claret and blue outfit against the traditionally black Maryland, ranked a lofty No. 2.
A quiet enough first half, in which Maryland held the upper hand, preceded a better second period which saw sophomore midfielder Andrew Brody head home in the 54th minute after he met a well-placed cross from the right by junior forward Ricardo Velazco.
Despite the Terrapins outshooting Louisville 10-7, and having a 5-0 corner-kick advantage (the last of which in the 87th minute almost saw Maryland tie the game), the Cards held on for a memorable win.
It was coach Ken Lolla’s 100th victory at Louisville (his record thus far is 100-47-23) in what is his ninth season at the helm.
My only real crib is current ticket pricing, which is $9 for general admission, and $12 for reserved chairback seats ($5 for youths for either). If you want to make comparisons to other Division 1 soccer programs, it’s $5 general admission to both Indiana and Kentucky games ($3 for youths at Indiana; $2 at Kentucky).
It will be up to the casual soccer fan to decide whether watching the Cards at the new facility is worth shelling out that much on a regular basis.