These are exciting times for University of Louisville men’s soccer.
For the past three years, the Cards have reached the NCAA Elite Eight, including reaching the College Cup decider in 2010 when runner-up to Akron.
With deep postseason runs now becoming more a norm than a novelty, Ken Lolla’s charges are preparing to play their final campaign at Cardinal Park before moving to a brand new $18.5 million venue.
The Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium, to be located by Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, will have a capacity of 5,300. The Lynns contributed a lead gift of $5 million toward construction of the venue.
The stadium will be ready just in time for Louisville’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“The intimacy of the facility will make it a unique and exciting atmosphere for our players and the fans,” said head coach Ken Lolla during a recent Twitter Q&A ahead of the new season.
But for now, attention is focused entirely on 2013, coach Lolla’s eighth at the Louisville helm, and the 10th-ranked Cardinals (NSCAA coaches poll) will feature no fewer than 17 newcomers, many of them transfers.
This Friday (August 30), the Cards will kick off the new campaign away to 25th-ranked Virginia (8 p.m. ET). It will be the first ever meeting between the teams.
Gone from the squad is MLS first-round draft pick Andrew Farrell, now with New England Revolution, but Lolla is excited by the talent he has at his disposal this fall. Among those expected to shine are sophomores Marlon Hairston, Zack Foxhoven and Ricardo Velazco, and freshman Andrew Brody.
“Velazco, Brody and Foxhoven will be very dynamic players to watch with the potential to have a significant impact,” said Lolla.
“We will miss Andrew Farrell yet we expect Daniel Keller and Jimmy Ockford to team up as a formidable force in our defense.”
The regular season will also see Louisville take on College Cup holders Indiana on the road and Connecticut at home, two games Lolla said he is “most anticipating.”
Live audio of Friday’s Virginia-Louisville matchup will be available through CardsTV at GoCards.com.
It’s that time again when we reminisce and select a mix of the best soccer moments and stories of 2011, both locally and elsewhere.
Just a glance at the top moments suggests it was the year of girlpower, with a state title for the fairer sex coming to the area, not to mention the excitement of the Women’s World Cup in the summer.
The moments are in no particular order of preference, and if you feel we’ve left anything out, you can add to it here.
To all our readers and friends: Thanks for all your support and co-operation during the year, and have a very, merry Christmas and a kicking 2012.
Providence wins Indiana girls’ state title
Along with the introduction of two class soccer to Indiana came Providence’s first IHSAA state sanctioned crown in any sport courtesy of it girls’ soccer team. The Pioneers beat Mishawaka Marian in the Class A championship game in a penalty shootout at Kuntz Stadium, Indianapolis, completing an unbeaten year (21-0-2). Providence went through the postseason without conceding a single goal, while also recording 12 consecutive shutouts.
Christian Academy wins sectional
Christian Academy of Indiana wins its first ever boys’ sectional crown when beating Providence 2-0 in the local Class A championship decider. Floyd Central beat Jasper 2-1 in the local Class 2A girls’ sectional title game, while Jasper beat New Albany in the Class 2A boys’ sectional final 2-1 after overtime.
Local trio part of Kentucky state champs
Soccer powerhouse St Xavier wins its 11th Kentucky state title and helping them achieve the record feat are southern Indiana senior trio Gabe Stewart, Mitch Brinkworth and Logan Riely. The Tigers (27-1-1) win the championship 3-0 against Ryle at Paul Dunbar High School in Lexington, chalking up their 26th consecutive victory.
Colin Bell will always remember his first victory in sectionals as Silver Creek boys’ soccer coach, an 8-0 result against Rock Creek Academy, for more than one reason. It also was the night he proposed to his sweetheart, Morgan Young, during the halftime break at the Providence-hosted event. With his side up 4-0, Bell made his way over to the bleachers with his players, each one carrying a rose. There sat Pioneer graduate Young, who had been asked to bring a “forgotten” polo top of Bell’s to the game. “The first guy put the vase down in front of her and the rest set their roses in the vase,” Bell told Kick It.“ I had this whole thing prepared, comparing soccer to love, but I froze up. All I said was, ‘I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?’” Luckily, Young responded in the affirmative, to the roaring approval of the crowd.
Another goal tragedy
Fourth grader Jonathan Nelson dies after a goal falls over at Elm Tree Elementary school, Arkansas in January. Police and administrators confirm the goal was not anchored, while parents tell a local TV station that some children were leaning against the goal when it fell over and hit the nine-year-old in the head. There have been 36 known and reported deaths in the United States from injuries sustained by soccer goals since 1979. During that time, players in Lafayette, Indiana and Bardstown, Kentucky have sustained serious injuries.
Klinsmann named new U.S.A. coach
Bob Bradley is relieved of his duties as the U.S. men’s coach and is replaced by California based German Jürgen Klinsmann, ushering in a new era in U.S. soccer and finally ending a five year chase for his services. Qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil start for the U.S. next June.
A Real ‘Gemma’
Gemma Newland, Southern Indiana United’s vice president of referees, is named the Administrator of the Year by Indiana Youth Soccer. “It feels weird to have all of this attention,” said the New Albany mother of four, recognized for her tireless dedication for the past 18 years. “The reward was totally unexpected, as I don’t feel that I do anything remarkable.”
The Women’s World Cup
The FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Germany during the summer, saw the United States just miss out on the title when beaten on penalty kicks by surprise packet Japan in the final. However, it was the quarterfinal clash against Brazil – a sports movie in one game — that will long be remembered. It had the earliest ever own goal (74 seconds); a sending off; a debatable penalty after said sending off;, a spirited fight back from a U.S. team uniting to overcome adversity, manufacturing the latest ever goal in a World Cup. And to top it all, the game then had a thrilling penalty shootout victory with goalkeeper Hope Solo pulling off a match wining save. Hoosiers Lauren Cheney and Lori Lindsey were also part of the squad. The event was described as World Cup 2.0 as there was a notable shift in the public obtaining information or watching games online.
UofL reaches Elite Eight; Women make Sweet 16
The University of Louisville men’s soccer team goes out of the NCAA Division One tournament at the Elite Eight stage, losing to UCLA, who it had conquered at the same point last year on its way to the final. This year’s championship game sees No. 1 North Carolina beat unranked state rival Charlotte 1-0. The Cards women’s soccer program, meanwhile, posts its greatest postseason run, making the last 16 but losing out 2-0 to ninth ranked Florida State. The title is won by Stanford, who beat Duke by a lone goal.
Fan blags way onto bench
Republic of Ireland fan Conor Cunningham travels to Talinn, without a ticket, to see his country’s Euro 2012 first leg play-off against Estonia and ends up on the opposition’s bench. When trying to blag his way into the game with his friends, he discovers an Estonian tracksuit in a small room with a bag of soccer balls. He proceeds to put the tracksuit on over his jeans and Ireland shirt. Cunningham continues the story: “I didn’t know what to do, to be honest, so I thought I’d better go into the Estonian dug-out. No one said anything to me and then I realized I was sitting beside their manager (Tarmo Ruutli).” At the end of the game, he goes onto the field with his bag of balls and celebrates with the delirious Irish players, who practically ensure qualification for Euro 2012 with a 4-0 victory.
Other stories: Los Angeles Galaxy wins MLS Cup; Barcelona wins Champions League final against Manchester United and World Club Championship against Santos; River City Rovers plays its first season in the Premier Development League; Borden’s Grant Hollkamp makes Region II ’97 team; Wales national team coach and former player Gary Speed apparently takes his own life; former Brazil star Sócrates dies; Women’s Professional Soccer survives as a five team league is approved for 2012 by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The University of Louisville fell to its second loss of the season against Notre Dame in a game televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel on Saturday night.
The Cards (6-2-0), who entered the matchup ranked anywhere from third to sixth in all five of the national soccer polls, fell behind to a fourth minute Danny O’Leary shot which keeper Andre Boudreaux was unable to keep out despite getting his gloves on the ball.
An improved second-half performance by Louisville saw missed opportunities from Kenny Walker, Colin Rolfe and man of the match, Nick DeLeon.
Their efforts in the Big East opening game, in which they outshot the Fighting Irish 20-9, were interrupted by a scampering loose rabbit, which found itself on live television in the 54th minute while searching for a way out of the stadium.
Louisville will be hoping to bounce back with a victory against No. 2 Connecticut at Cardinal Park this Saturday at 7 p.m. before travelling to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Oct. 5.
New Premier Development League team River City Rovers will hold its final tryout session at the Oldham County Youth Soccer Complex on March 12 and 13.
Rovers will be made up of approximately 23 male players, ages 17-28, and will showcase the best and brightest greater Louisville area athletes who currently play for their respective club and college soccer teams nationwide.
Sixteen players were selected at the first tryout held in January, including four from College Cup finalists, University of Louisville — Andrew Farrell, Ryan Smith, Josh Lipka and Aaron Horton.
“The tryouts were extremely successful,” said Muhamed Fazlagic, head coach and technical director of River City Rovers. “We wanted soccer players from every school and every club to show up. Multiple talent, multiple backgrounds — all on one field at the same time.”
Due to scheduling conflicts for out-of-state students, some interested players were unable to make the January tryouts. Therefore, Rovers will be hosting the supplemental tryout to coincide with most college spring breaks.
Attendees for the two day tryout at 4305 W. Highway 146 in Buckner are asked to complete their registration online at www.roverssoccer.com. Cost to attend is $95. Players are asked to bring indoor and outdoor shoes.
The United Soccer League featured 67 PDL teams within four conferences across the United States and Canada in 2010. The squads have proven to be an important stepping-stone for top soccer professionals now playing around the world at USL and MLS levels.
Rovers will play 16 regular season matches, and its first game is scheduled to be a friendly against St Louis on May 8, with league play starting on May 19. They are still in negotiations to secure a home venue.
On Saturday morning, I joked with someone via e-mail that the University of Louisville would beat UCLA in the NCAA quarterfinal matchup by the not very realistic scores of 5-3, 5-4 or 6-5, given both teams’ propensity for flowing, attacking soccer and the expected inclement weather.
If I had have known of anybody offering odds on this game, I would probably be walking around the streets of Southern Indiana right about now with a wheelbarrow stuffed high with notes featuring the faces of various presidents.
Such a thought faded rapidly from the mind to be replaced with joy. The emotion was shared thousands of times over at Cardinal Park by the Louisville fans who braved the elements, even if they couldn’t feel too many of their bodily parts at the end of 90 minutes of play.
The Cards have reached the Men’s College Cup — their Final Four — for the first time in their history, courtesy of a thrilling come-from-behind 5-4 victory, the clincher arriving with just 52 seconds of play remaining from the boot of Aaron Horton.
Despite the snow and freezing temperatures, there was a record 5,467 attendance — plus hundreds of others on the ‘Ville Hill’ and in cars outside the soccer grounds — to see the Cards earn themselves a trip to the warmer climes of Santa Barbara, Calif.
This is a team that had won only one NCAA tournament game before this year. It is a squad that went into the postseason with the burden of No. 1 on its shoulders.
Having fallen 2-0 and 3-1 behind, top-ranked Louisville (19-0-3) showed the sort of refuse-to-lie-down-and-die attitude that accompanies teams who just don’t know how to lose.
Ken Lolla’s charges will now take on No. 4 North Carolina at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Harder Stadium.
Before they depart for the Men’s College Cup, supporters are invited to a send-off for the team at the KFC Yum! Center at 5 p.m. today. The first 500 kids at the event will get a free Louisville soccer T-shirt, while the coaches and players will be available for autographs.
The Tar Heels have won all of their three NCAA tournament games this year on penalty kicks against Georgetown, Michigan State and SMU.
They are no strangers to the Men’s College Cup, most recently falling to Akron on penalties last year and advancing to the final in 2008.
The second semifinal on Friday will feature No. 3 Akron (a team coached by Lolla from 1993-2005) against No. 10 Michigan at 11 p.m. The championship game will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday. All three games will be shown live on ESPNU or ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.com.
Exemplifying how the game of soccer can provide a roller-coaster ride of emotions was FIFA’s announcement last Thursday that it would be Qatar, not the United States, which will host the 2022 World Cup, while Russia was awarded 2018.
The fallout from the picks of oil rich countries with gargantuan budgets has been as entertaining as the actual decisions themselves.
The English have not been taking it very well (Google “England” and “World Cup 2018” for yourself), while the United States’ bid team was despondent but more gracious.
Both nations had technically superior assessments compared to their respective rivals. But FIFA made it clear that it doesn’t pay much attention to the reports that itself demanded.
Whatever the accusations of bribery, vote trading and backroom politics, the fact is that FIFA has chosen to continue its theme of establishing legacies and breaking new ground.
Russia will become the first Eastern European nation to host the tournament, while choosing Qatar — a nation the size of Connecticut with a population of just more than 1.5 million — means the World Cup will dip its toes in Middle East territory for the first time.
Russia’s selection is not a major surprise. It has always been a fairly decent soccer nation and, as Europe’s biggest emerging soccer economy, it should be given the chance to show what it can do.
The choice of Qatar, however, is head-scratching to say the least. Classified by FIFA itself as “high risk,” much has already been made of its searing temperatures in the summer, while it will basically be building infrastructure from scratch to host the biggest sports event on the planet.
All 12 stadia — nine to be built from scratch –will be within a 20-mile radius encompassing its capital, Doha. Then after the tournament, they’ll be dismantled and transported off to countries that need them.
So the decisions might be seen by FIFA as all very brave and noble, but let me put this to you: Four horses are running in four different races on the same card. Only one has ever run on the course (Brazil), although he hasn’t run for a while (1950) and there are real concerns about whether he’s ready or not to do this again.
One other has run over the distance (South Africa in hosting the Rugby World Cup). The others might be half decent, because a lot of money has been invested in their breeding (Russia and Qatar), but no one really knows how they’ll take to the course and distance.
Let me ask you — Would you stick your hard-earned loot on all four sluicing home to victory?
One has already made it successfully home, of course, with South Africa hosting a decent World Cup this year. However, experience sadly tells me you’d be foolish to believe all four longshots will romp it. Which is why I can’t help feeling these decisions are going to come back and haunt FIFA somewhere along the line, and judging by the worldwide reaction in recent days, there won’t be too many shedding a whole bunch of tears if that happens.
And me? Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Russia and the Middle East, but I’m not expecting any full wheelbarrows in my backyard to help me get there.